It is no secret state jails are overcrowded. Many inmates are held for low-level infractions and misdemeanors. Unnecessarily high inmate populations have been made apparent by the COVID-19 pandemic, with case rates inside jail walls soaring. Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s recent signing of bipartisan criminal justice reform bills will work to reduce the number of surplus inmates.
Michigan’s new clean slate bills prioritizes alternatives to jail for residents and expand on criminal justice reform for both juveniles and adults. They originate from recommended policies made by the Michigan Joint Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration, which conducted a year-long study into Michigan’s jail system. The Task Force concluded that inmates who commit minor crimes are either staying for too long or would better benefit society outside of incarceration.
These bills have been poured over by lawmakers with input ranging from crime victims, prosecutors, judges, reform advocates, to the public population. It was agreed that persecution of low-level crimes, such as driving on a suspended license and violating probation, exhausted public safety resources while making little to no contribution to creating safer communities.
So what will these new laws do? Here’s a summary:
- Eliminate license suspension for violations of the law unrelated to dangerous driving.
- Eliminate mandatory minimum jail sentences in multiple codes (motor vehicle, school, natural resources and environmental protection act, railroad code, public health code
- Ensure summonses are only used for most first-time failures to appear; this allows defendants to resolve low-level warrants without being arrested.
- Expand eligibility for deferred judgment of guilt to 24 and 25 year olds under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA).
- The Good Moral Character Package expands opportunities for Michiganders post-conviction or post-judgement to obtain occupational licenses.
- The Clean Slate for Kids package aims to ensure a fresh start for youth exiting juvenile justice system.
- Juvenile court records become nonpublic and modifies who can see closed documents.
If you or someone you know may qualify for a clean slate, you need an attorney who will protect what matters most: liberty, children, family, and education. Call Kirsch Daskas Law Group at our office.