The efforts to end Life and Long Sentences in Michigan have been ongoing and arduous. Led by MI-CEMI Steering Team member American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), strategies are being implemented to roll out “Second Look Legislation”, that would make people reviewable for parole once they’ve served 20 years, no matter what the offense. There are also efforts to unravel policies, practices, and procedures, such as Truth in Sentencing and Michigan’s Habitual Offender Statute, which allow long and undue sentencing practices to exist within the State of Michigan.
This work also involves a huge narrative shift around the way society views people who’ve caused harm, people who’ve been harmed, the negative stigmas that are often attached to people with felony convictions, and how people serving life and long sentences are perceived, engaged, and supported.
This work is multi-faceted. In the long term we seek to change policies so that no one is sentenced to die in prisons in Michigan. This means influencing narratives and culture and changing hearts and minds. Involving people the most directly impacted by life and long sentences (people serving them, people who did serve them and are now released, and people who care about long sentences people) in leadership roles in this campaign work is key to the cultural shifts and the policy changes we seek to influence.