Prison Fellowship®, the nation’s largest Christian nonprofit serving prisoners, former prisoners, and their families, released the following statement alongside a letter in support of fair pretrial practices from over 25 Michigan faith leaders.
“Michigan faith leaders see firsthand how overuse of jail before trial destabilizes families and disrupts access to work, housing, and health care,” said Ally Alfonsetti, Legislative Strategist for Prison Fellowship. “We hope lawmakers in Lansing will hear their voice and work towards a system where every decision is guided by a commitment to public safety and pretrial freedom.”
- Michigan state lawmakers have introduced a package of pretrial justice policies (HB 5436-5443) that would advance pretrial liberty, fairness, and public safety.
- The goal of pretrial decision making should be to address credible risks of harm or flight before trial, including through detention where necessary. Over-reliance on money bail skews this analysis, causing low-income, low-risk defendants to remain in jail due to limited financial resources and allowing dangerous defendants who do have access to wealth to post bond and be released.
- The Pretrial Fairness Package limits government overreach by requiring judges to always use the least restrictive conditions on a defendant’s freedom needed for safe, timely return to court without a new arrest. The bills also expand the use of nonmonetary release conditions, such as pretrial supervision and text reminders, that allow defendants to responsibly await their court date in their communities.
- The package protects public safety by maintaining the ability of Michigan judges to detain high risk defendants with specific charges and criminal histories either through preventative detention or high money bail orders.
- The Pretrial Fairness Package is supported by a range of organizations, including Prison Fellowship, American for Prosperity, Safe and Just Michigan, the Christian Coalition of Michigan, American Conservative Union, Fresh Coast Alliance, The Hope Network, and Vera Institute.