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Michigan's Newest Criminal Justice Reform

On Monday, January 4th, Governor Whitmer signed over 30 bills regarding Michigan’s criminal justice system. Some of the changes contained within these bills are aimed at expanding alternatives to jail and removing hurdles to individual’s lives after incarceration.

The Michigan Joint Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration recommended twenty of the newly signed bills. The task force was created to find new ways to reduce Michigan’s jail population. The task force consulted, judges, communities, criminal defense attorneys, prosecutors, county sheriffs, jail administrators, community leaders, Justices of the Michigan Supreme Court, and many more, in an effort to gain a full understanding of what was needed to help the citizens of Michigan.

Some of the policy changes include providing police officers with more discretion to issue tickets in lieu of arresting someone, reclassifying many traffic misdemeanors as civil infractions and ending driver’s license suspensions for violations that are not related to dangerous driving. Reform for most misdemeanors and some felonies, the new laws will include a presumption that judges hand down a sentence other than jail, unless the Judge determines that incarceration is necessary. Further, eligibility for the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA) will be expanded to individuals up to the age of 26 years old (with prosecutor consent).

The laws vary on when they are set to take effect. Some of the changes are immediate, while others take effect in April 2021 or October 2021.

Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Bridget McCormack, who was the co-chair on the task force stated, “Our courts are justice system belong to the people, and these reforms reflect a consensus-based process that brought together all who share our commitment to fairness, accountability, transparency and efficiency.”

For a list of some the newly passed bills please visit the links below. If you have a question or wonder how these new bills may apply to your specific situation, please call us for a free confidential consultation.

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