Sexual Assault Survivor Hopes to Bring Awareness After Attacker Gets Five Years Probation Due to New Michigan Law

‘This is the exact definition of a miscarriage of justice’

A sexual assault survivor is hoping to bring awareness after her attacker was sentenced to no jail time due to the recent Michigan Jails Task Force 2020 Legislative Package.  The law reduces misdemeanor crimes from spending time behind bars to probation in order to reduce the jail capacity.

“I think that when this bill was passed, they didn’t really think about the effect it would have on victims,” says Danielle Carnahan.

Carnahan says in 2020 she was sexually assaulted by a man she thought she could trust. In April of 2021, Carnahan’s attacker was convicted of fourth degree criminal sexual assault. Before the new law, that would have meant up to two years in jail. However, he was sentenced to five years of probation instead.

“Just a couple of weeks before that, this bill was passed,” says Carnahan. “It’s Public Act 395, trying to keep the jails and the prison’s emptier for COVID.”

The law is part of the bipartisan justice reform package, that reduces misdemeanor crimes from jail time to probation in hopes of helping jail overcrowding issues.

“When I got to court after a year of waiting and all of the stuff I went through, the harassment from their family… I felt raped all over again by my justice system,” says Carnahan.

Mason County Prosecutor Lauren Kreinbrink says the law runs the risk of putting survivors in continual danger.

“Without holding these criminals accountable we’re letting them walk the streets, and in those certain cases where we can’t impose any upfront jail time, we run the risk of re traumatizing that victim.”

Carnahan says although her case is closed, she hopes things will change so that other survivors don’t have to bear this burden.

“These guys can’t be walking free. We’re going to have to change this bill so that when there’s a victim in a violent crime like mine, they have to go to jail,” says Carnahan.