Michigan leaders gathered on Tuesday for the fifth Joint Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration meeting to discuss possible criminal justice system reform measures to reduce monetary costs and other problems.
The group, composed of 21-members, including Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist and Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Bridget McCormack, discussed potential reforms that won’t be finalized until Jan. 9, 2020.
The task force analyzed data from the previous decade of arrest and court data from the Michigan State Police and the State Court Administrative Office and traveled across the state to gather public input.
The group is considering changes in arrest and arrest diversion, pre-trial and post-conviction, more mental health resources for inmates and officers, state parole uniformity, and some reclassification of misdemeanors to civil infractions.
Pew Charitable Trusts data showed Michigan is at a 50-year low crime rate even though the jail population has nearly tripled from 1970 to 2016.
The research highlighted two problems: a large number of people in jail, and that 17 percent of people in jails stayed longer than a month, even though Michigan’s arrests have fallen by about 20 percent over the past 10 years.
McCormack said the task force had seen mental illness and substance abuse posing problems inside jails, which may not properly treat those prisoner’s problems.
According to the Task force, the five most common reasons for jail admission are:
- Operating under the influence: 14 percent
- Assault: 11 percent
- Driving Without Valid License: 9 percent
- Probation/Parole violation: 8 percent
- Theft: 8 percent
Michigan taxpayers in 2017 spent $478 million on county jail and correction costs.
Justice system costs totaled more than $2 billion in 2017, the third-largest subcategory of Michigan county expenditures, according to Pew Charitable Trusts.
McCormack said the task force plans for Michigan to be a national leader in criminal justice reform.
The group will meet in Lansing on Jan. 9 to release its official report and recommendations.