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Whitmer creates new jail task force to continue criminal justice reform

Members will implement and evaluate changes for jails signed into law in January
Genesee County Jail.
Genesee County Jail.
Published: Apr. 21, 2021 at 12:27 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WJRT) - Michigan has a new task force that will continue looking at ways to improve criminal justice in the state.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the new Michigan Jail Reform Advisory Council on Wednesday, which will be tasked with implementing reforms to the justice system across the state. Some of the changes were recommended last year by the Michigan Joint Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration.

“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.

The January 2020 report from the jail and pretrial incarceration task force found a significant increase in jail populations across the state, which costs taxpayers nearly $500 million annually. The earlier joint task force concluded that pretrial and post conviction incarceration led to the inmate population increase.

The Michigan Legislature approved changes to policies regarding when people are jailed for traffic violations or other offenses, ways to divert inmates with behavioral health issues out of jails, speeding up trials and limiting financial barriers to result in people going in and out of jail.

Whitmer signed several of the bills into law in January. The new task force announced Wednesday will monitor, implement and evaluate the jail reform legislation signed into law earlier this year.

Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack will serve as chairwoman for the new 19-member jail task force. Other members from Mid-Michigan include Oakland County Community Corrections Division Manager Barbara Hankey of Holly and Alpena County Commissioner Bill Peterson.

The jail task force is slated to conclude its work by March 31, 2023.

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