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Whitmer creates advisory council for jail reform

Michigan plans to close prison in western Upper Peninsula
Posted at 5:50 PM, Apr 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-21 17:50:39-04

LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order Wednesday that creates a Michigan Jail Reform Advisory Council.

The governor says the council will help implement “long overdue” reforms to the state’s criminal justice system.

“Michigan will continue to lead the way as we take tangible steps to reform our justice system, and I know that the bipartisan work of this council will make our communities and state safer, save taxpayer dollars and help us achieve the goals laid out by the Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration,” Whitmer said.

Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist was a co-chair of that task force.

“Together, we can make substantive, lasting changes to our justice system that make us all safer and help us live up to our highest ideals,” Gilchrist said.

Whitmer created the Michigan Joint Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration back in April 2019.

The task force issued its final report and recommendations in January 2020 and found significant growth in county jail populations, costing taxpayers almost half a billion dollars annually.

Jail populations have been driven by both pre-trial and post-conviction incarceration, with limited guidance in state law on the preferred or presumed intervention.

The task force recommended state policy changes related to traffic violations, arrests, behavioral health diversion, pretrial release and detention, speedy trials, sentencing, probation and parole, financial barriers for system-involved individuals, victim services and data collection.

Many of those recommendations were passed in the state Legislature in December 2020 and signed into law by Whitmer on Jan. 4.

The new Jail Reform Advisory Council will serve as an advisory body within the Department of Technology, Management and Budget.