Michigan Joint Task Force on Jail & Pretrial Incarceration Releases Report

State leaders gathered on Tuesday to discuss solutions on how to handle Michigan’s over populated jails.

Two of those, were specific problems in northern Michigan.

“This is not about being soft on crime, this is not about being tough on crime, this is about being smart on crime and giving people the tools they need to be successful,” said Speaker of the House Lee Chatfield.

Who is in our jails, reducing jail populations and making our communities safer.

That was the topic on Tuesday in Lansing.

The Michigan Joint Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration spent the last nine months, collecting information and input.

On Tuesday, they released their report with 18 recommendations.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Bridget McCormack and Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist served as chairs of the task force.

The proposals are aimed at protecting victims, the public and the rights of everyone.

Two specific concerns they found are familiar to jails in Northern Michigan.

“When we first gathered in Detroit in July, we did not know enough about who was in our jails or why our jail populations had expanded so dramatically when crime was at a 50 year low and now we do,” said co-chair of the task force Supreme Court Chief Justice McCormack.

House Speaker Lee Chatfield and Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey will now review the 18 recommendations made by the task force.

“When we look at how we prosecuted and how many people we had in the system in 1979 compared to how many we have today with over doubling it, we ought to be ashamed in that we haven’t done enough for the people who are in the system here in the state of Michigan,” said House Speaker Chatfield.

One big concern in their report is the number of people admitted to jail with mental health disorders, especially in rural areas.

Another major concern, jail populations growing faster in rural counties than in urban or suburban areas.

“We know that rural jail populations especially where there are fewer mental health and substance abuse services have outpaced urban jail populations,” said Supreme Court Chief Justice McCormack.

Even after nine months and 18 recommendations, Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist said the work is just getting started and the task force will stay in place until September.

He said “there are many questions to be answered, there are still more perspectives to be heard, there are choices that need to be weighed but that’s what the legislative process is about.”

An important issue and focus for the new year by both democrats and republicans.

“We are going to be tackling many issues in 2020 but I think paramount to all of them in importance is reforming our criminal justice system,” said House Speaker Chatfield.

Click here for the full report.