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Advocates for 'second look' prison reforms rally at Michigan Capitol

Advocates for Second Look prison reforms rally in Lansing
Posted at 8:03 PM, Oct 14, 2021

LANSING, Mich. — Advocates for what are known as “second look” prison reforms rallied at the state Capitol Thursday, hoping to convince lawmakers to create a pathway to earlier release for inmates looking at long sentences.

People like Pauline Thompson’s son, Jamie Meade.

“I think they should look at stuff and give the guys good time," Thompson said. "The guys that’s changing, I thought that’s what prison was about. You put somebody in there to help not keep them in there the rest of their lives."

Under second look reforms, inmates who’ve served a significant amount of time would be able to be considered for parole. In some states, such reforms allow prisoners to be considered for parole after serving 10 years. Advocates also are asking that people who were sentenced as juveniles be automatically considered for a second look sentence reduction.

“Forty percent of Michigan’s prison population were convicted before the age of 26 before their brain was fully formed," said Alexandra Bailey of the Sentencing Project. "We think that we need to have a piece of legislation that addresses that issue along with the aging prison population and the fact that people change, they age out of crime. They grow and take responsibility.”

According to the Sentencing Project, more than 20 states are now considering second look legislation.

Thursday's rally brought together people from the faith community, prison reform advocates and prisoners' family members who think second look laws are more humane.

Former inmate Adam Grant says he has changed and knows countless others in the system who’ve done the same.

“I’ve got seven felonies on my record. I was a hot mess but I no longer am. All I want to do now is make a difference in the world and there’s plenty of people in there that want to do just that,” Grant said.

It's unclear when state lawmakers might take up the issue. At least two state senators, Democrats Stephanie Chang and Jeff Irwin, support second look legislation.

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