Note: There are a lot of legislative efforts to change Michigan’s criminal legal system, and it’s hard to keep track of everything that’s going on. That’s why one service MI-CEMI offers to our members is a legislative tracker (2021-2022 tracker, 2023-2024 tracker). If this information is useful to you, request to sign up for regular email updates by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
While the 2019-2020 legislative session was a very productive time for passing criminal legal system reform legislation such as Clean Slate, Clean Slate for Kids, and Sex Offender Registry Act Reform, we saw less action in the 2021-2022 legislative session. That said, many good ideas came forward, some did pass, and community voices helped limit the impact of harmful legislation.
Here are some highlights from last year. Please note that we began our bill tracker in 2022, so legislation that passed, was defeated, or stalled in 2021 may not appear in this summary.
What passed in 2022
Midway through the 2022 legislative session, the House leadership decided to focus on election rather than legislation, which ground many policy issues to a halt. That said, some things did pass:
- Community Crisis Response and Jail Diversion: SB 637 and SB 638 were championed by MI-CEMI member the National Association of Social Workers – Michigan Chapter and created a community crisis response grant fund behavioral health jail diversion program. These bills promote public safety and prevent unnecessary police contact and jail intake by funding community-based mobile crisis response programs. These support programs in various communities to deploy community health workers rather than police to support people experiencing a mental health or substance use crisis.
- Crime Victims Compensation: HB 4674 and HB 4675 modify qualification and limits for compensation for crime victims. Alliance for Safety and Justice championed these as part of a legislative package that also included HB 4670, HB 4671, HB 4672, and HB 4673, which would have created “productivity credits” aimed to have offered earned time of prison sentences to encourage incarcerated people to participate in education and training programs. The productivity credit bills did not move forward, but the victims’ compensation bills did.
- Parole Review Changes: HB 4562 and HB 4563 modified the parole board review process to reduce the parole cycle to 5 years for some cases. While many MI-CEMI members are concerned about this policy change, they are relieved that the scope of the bill is narrower than what was originally proposed.
What stalled or was defeated in 2022
As is normal, more bills stalled out than passed in 2022. Some of the key policies that stalled are below.
MI-CEMI Steering Team supported legislation
- Bail Reform (HB 5436, HB 5437, HB 5438, HB 5439, HB 5440, HB 5441, HB 5442, HB 5443): These bills represent the major piece of unfinished business from the Michigan Joint Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration. As the Detroit Justice Center’s Erin Keith pointed out in a MLK Day Op Ed, holding people who do not represent a public safety risk in jail who have not been convicted of a crime harms poor people and communities of color without increasing public safety. In fact, by threatening people’s jobs, housing, and family connections, our current system of cash bail actually increases the conditions of desperation that cause crime in the first place.
- Ending Juvenile Life Without Parole: We saw strong bipartisan support for SB 848, SB 849, SB 850, and SB 851, and hoped that we could get them over the finish line in 2022. However the reduced legislative calendar led these bills to die in committee last session. Many partners were part of this effort, including Safe and Just Michigan, the ACLU of Michigan, the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth
- Women’s Prison Oversight Board: In response to ongoing concerns about conditions at the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility, the American Friends Service Committee Michigan Criminal Justice Program (AFSC) led efforts to introduce SB 487, which would create a governor-appointed citizens oversight board for the women’s prison.
- Vital Documents: The State Appellate Defender’s Office (SADO) and the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) have been working to support a bi-partisan package of bills that would strengthen the requirements for the state to provide returning citizens with a birth certificate, state ID or driver’s license, and Social Security card. This bill package was brought to a hearing in the House Transportation Committee, but did not come up for a vote.
- Phone Fees: Safe and Just Michigan, Citizens for Prison Reform, AFSC, Worth Rises, and others have been working to reduce and eliminate jail and prison phone fees in Michigan. They were able to secure a major win to reduce fees through the budget process. HB 6363 would have gone further to eliminate fees in jails and prisons, but did not receive a hearing. One of the strongest predictors of successful reentry is the extent to which an incarcerated person has been able to maintain connections with their family and community. Eliminating these fees as California and Connecticut have done would reduce recidivism, increase public safety, and save taxpayers more through reduced reincarceration than the cost of such programs.
- Fair Chance Housing: Nation Outside has been advancing both local and state (HB 6242, HB 6243) fair chance housing policies to reduce the barriers formerly incarcerated people face in finding stable housing when they come home.
- Juvenile Defense: One of the key recommendations of the Task Force On Juvenile Justice Reform is to expand public defense support for kids in the youth justice system. HB 6344 & HB 6345 would expand the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission to include oversight and compliance with youth defense standards. Michigan Center for Youth Justice is leading advocacy on this and expects to see the policies reintroduced this year.
- Juvenile Fines and Fees: Another key recommendation of the Task Force On Juvenile Justice Reform is to eliminate non-restitutionary juvenile fines and fees. Michigan Center for Youth Justice has led efforts to highlight this problem through their Debt Free Justice Campaign. HB 4987, HB 4988, HB 4989, HB 4990, and HB 4991 would enact this change. They also did not see action in 2022, but are expected to see reintroduction in 2023.
Other Legislation to reduce mass incarceration
- Good Time Credits: MI-CEMI member Michigan Justice Advocacy (MJA) has been working to advance (SB 649, SB 650, HB 6567, and HB 6568) to establish a system that would encourage and incentivize positive behavior for incarcerated people by allowing them to earn reductions in their prison sentence. Michigan is an outlier for not having a system that allows earned reductions in prison sentences, and such policies have bipartisan support in other states. Other states’ departments of corrections also support earned credit systems as they make the work of corrections staff easier. MJA plans to reintroduce the bills this year.
- Productivity Credits: As discussed above, the Alliance for Safety and Justice promoted a Productivity Credits package (HB 4670, HB 4671, HB 4672, and HB 4673) that would allow certain incarcerated people to earn productivity credits toward time that must be deducted from their sentence in determining their parole eligibility date and discharge date. While this bill had bipartisan support and had a hearing in 2022, it did not move forward.
- Police Reform: Despite many promises by the Senate Judiciary Committee Chair to continue work on this bipartisan package of police reform bills ( SB 473, SB 474, SB 475, SB 476, SB 477, SB 478, SB 479, SB 480, SB 481, SB 482, SB 483, SB 484, SB 599) they died in committee.
Other Bills :
- Arbitration for Jail Workers: HB 4725 would include jail workers in the collective bargaining protections that cover police and firefighters, which require labor disputes to go to binding arbitration. The rules for this arbitration process have made it difficult for communities to increase police oversight and accountability.
- Expanding Drug and Mental Health Courts: HB 5482, HB 5483, and HB 5484 would allow people with assaultive offenses to access drug and mental health courts. While reducing the barriers to treatment that people with assaultive records face is positive, some question if drug and mental health courts are the right tools to address mental health and substance use disorder concerns.
- Restorative Justice: HB 5987 would establish a mechanism for victim offender restorative justice conferencing. Some restorative justice advocates felt the language of the bill needed further refinement before moving forward and that the process for creating the bill did not adequately involve all stakeholders. The Metro Detroit Restorative Justice Network (MDRJN) will be working over the next few years to coordinate a state-wide restorative justice taskforce constituted of restorative justice practitioners, victim/survivor rights advocates, returning citizens as well as those currently incarcerated, vested community members, values-aligned and allied legislators and legal actors, and members of MI’s Indigenous communities. The guiding mission of the taskforce will be to work together to research, engage the community, and draft restorative justice legislation and are working to propose improved language in 2023.
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