For Immediate Release
Jan. 4, 2021
Gov. Whitmer’s Signature of Numerous Criminal Justice Reforms Brings New Hope for Justice-Involved Residents
LANSING—Today, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a number of positive, bipartisan criminal justice reforms that the Michigan League for Public Policy has been advocating for for years. Several of these policy changes were recommendations in the League’s Owner’s Manual for Michigan proactive policy agenda for the 2019-2020 legislative session and the League’s May 2019 report Thriving on the outside: How Michigan can help the formerly incarcerated become gainfully employed. The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on today’s bill signing, which can be attributed to External Affairs Director Alex Rossman.
“Today marks the culmination of years of hard work by justice advocates and policymakers to make sure our laws better reflect the nature of the offense and better support justice-involved individuals and their families. In too many instances, overly punitive sentences and costly fines and fees have inordinately affected Black and Brown Michiganders, residents with lower incomes, and people with a disability.
“From mandatory jail sentences to overzealous driver’s license suspensions, punishments have been overinflated and are incommensurate with the actual incident. Too often poverty ends up being the ‘offense’ that is actually being punished. An extended jail sentence could cost someone their job, and being able to drive is essential for many people to get to work, often resulting in individuals driving on a suspended license–further compounding their legal and financial troubles if they’re stopped again.
“Finally, ending the lifetime ban on SNAP food assistance for certain drug felons, the juvenile record expungement bills and the legislation to improve access to occupational licenses for justice-involved individuals effectively eliminate some of the unofficial and lifelong punishments that currently come with a criminal record. These changes have the support of the business community and offer the opportunity and stability justice-involved individuals need to truly move on from their past mistakes.”
Here are the League’s previous press statements on the legislation signed today.
House overwhelmingly passes bill to end lifetime food assistance ban for residents with certain drug convictions (Senate Bill 1006)
House’s bipartisan action on juvenile record legislation will help Michiganders move on from childhood mistakes (Senate Bills 681 and 682)
Senate keeps momentum up on criminal justice, passes reforms to improve access to occupational licenses (House Bills 4488-4492)
Senate moves important justice reforms to improve economic security, racial equity (Mandatory Sentencing Reforms: House Bills 5844, 5854-5857; Driver’s License Suspension Reforms: House Bills 5846-5852)