Tag Archive | Michigan League for Public Policy

Jail task force offers up major improvements

Michigan League for Public Policy urges Legislature to follow through

downloadDiverse, bipartisan group seeks to improve jail system to better serve all, reduce burden on people with lower incomes

The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on the Michigan Joint Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration’s recommendations announced today. The statement can be attributed to Michigan League for Public Policy President and CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs.

“Our current jail system’s overemphasis on fines and fees—and severe imbalance and punishment for those who can’t afford them—is creating a modern-day debtors’ prison where people with lower incomes receive harsher penalties than people with money. This area of our justice system has sadly become more focused on public profits than public safety and the punishment often fits the pocketbook more than the crime. But the jail task force’s recommendations released today seek to change that, and the League wholeheartedly supports these recommendations.

“With the Legislature’s proven, bipartisan appetite for justice reform illustrated over the past year, we are optimistic that lawmakers will continue that momentum and take these suggestions to heart. This task force was conscientious of diversity in every regard, including experiences and perspectives, and with representatives from every angle of the jail system involved, this report stands to be a good area of common-sense reform and bipartisan agreement that is needed to start the new year off right.”

The Michigan Joint Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration’s policy recommendations are:

Traffic violations: Stop suspending and revoking licenses for actions unrelated to safe driving. Reclassify most traffic offenses and some other minor misdemeanors as civil rather than criminal infractions.

Arrest: Expand officer discretion to use appearance tickets as an alternative to arrest and jail. Reduce the use of arrest warrants to enforce court appearance and payments, and establish a statewide initiative to resolve new warrants and recall very old ones.

Behavioral health diversion: Provide crisis response training for law enforcement and incentivize programs and partnerships between law enforcement and treatment providers to divert people with behavioral health needs from the justice system pre- and post-arrest.

The first 24 hours after arrest: Release people jailed on certain charges pre-arraignment and guarantee appearance before a judicial officer within 24-48 hours for anyone still detained.

Pretrial release and detention: Strengthen the presumption of release on personal recognizance and set higher thresholds for imposing non-financial and financial conditions. Provide a detention hearing for all defendants still detained 48 hours after arraignment.

Speedy trial: Require defendants to be tried within 18 months of arrest and preserve speedy trial rights unless waived by the defendant.

Alternatives to jail sentences: Presumptively impose sentences other than jail for non-serious misdemeanors and for felonies marked for “intermediate sanctions” under the sentencing guidelines.

Probation and parole: Shorten maximum probation terms for most felonies, establish new caps on jail time for technical violations, and streamline the process for those in compliance to earn early discharge.

Financial barriers to compliance: Reduce fine amounts for civil infractions. Require criminal courts to determine ability to pay fines and fees at sentencing and to modify unaffordable obligations. Repeal the law authorizing sheriffs to bill people for their own incarceration.

Victim services: Invest significant resources in victim services and strengthen protection order practices.

Data collection: Standardize criminal justice data collection and reporting across the state.

Driver’s licenses for all would make health, economic, and community impacts

Michigan-Drivers-License-for-All_840x480Lack of transportation is a social determinant that directly impacts health by limiting access to healthy food and medical care.  It also makes it hard to keep a job. According to a report released today from the Michigan League for Public Policy restoring driver’s licenses for undocumented Michiganders would also bring the State $100 million in new revenue over 10 years. Here’s what a 12/19.2019 MLPP media release shared:

State law allowed undocumented residents to receive driver’s licenses until 2008, and the new information from the League reinforces the far-reaching benefits of renewing that policy. The Drive SAFE (Safety, Access, Freedom and the Economy) legislation would allow state driver’s licenses for all residents, and the bills were introduced in November by Sens. Stephanie Chang and Winnie Brinks and Reps. Alex Garza and Rachel Hood.

“The economic impact is important, but what we’re really talking about here is belonging. We’re talking about parents being able to take their kids to the doctor, to visit grandma, to get to school events. We’re talking about the fact that everyone living in Michigan should have an identity,” said Gilda Z. Jacobs, President and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy.

If the Drive SAFE bills pass, an estimated 55,000 Michigan residents would pass driver’s tests and become licensed, leading to 20,000 vehicle purchases. Fees, registration and taxes from those two factors alone would result in $12 million in annual recurring revenue for the state. This does not take into account the positive impacts on local economies.
“Access to a driver’s license affects the amount of money people earn and spend. It’s imperfect, but it’s a fact: Being a Michigander often means being dependent on cars. When people can get to and from their jobs, they’re able to work more hours and earn more money. They’re able to expand the number of places they can shop and increase the amount of money they spend,” Jacobs said.

With 20,000 more Michigan drivers becoming insured and passing driver’s tests, roads will be safer and accidents resolved more quickly. The Drive SAFE bills would also lead to reduced auto insurance premiums.

Dozens of statewide organizations including the Michigan Farm Bureau, the ACLU of Michigan, the Michigan Education Association and the Michigan Nurses Association support the Drive SAFE bills, and the Washtenaw, Oakland and Kalamazoo county commissions have passed resolutions in support of driver’s licenses for all. If the bills pass, Michigan will join 14 other states that provide access to a driver’s license or ID, along with Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. A 15th state, New Jersey, passed legislation yesterday that will allow immigrants without legal status to get a driver’s license, which is expected to be signed into law.

Legal challenge signals Legislature to put brakes on Medicaid work requirements

Medicaid+work+requirements.jpgThe Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on the announcement today of a legal challenge against the federal Department of Health and Human Services for its approval of Michigan’s Section 1115 Medicaid waiver project. The statement can be attributed to Michigan League for Public Policy President and CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs.

“All along we have said that the best remedy for Healthy Michigan enrollees is to stop work requirements before they start, and we appreciate the efforts of the Center for Civil Justice, the Michigan Poverty Law Program—and hopefully the courts—to intercede where the Legislature has failed to and to fight to protect the healthcare of Michigan residents. Medicaid is a supportive health program and should not be altered in such a way as to make it punitive and ineffective. We hope today spurs legislative action to put these work requirements on pause until this court case is settled. Affected Michigan residents shouldn’t have to wait on the courts—or experience unnecessary issues and coverage losses—for their elected officials to act.

Medicaid work requirements began as a partisan issue, with the Trump Administration approving them and Republican governors and Legislatures clamoring to adopt them, but increasingly—and rightfully so—there is near-universal hesitance to follow through with their implementation. Whether because of concerns over significant coverage losses, legal fights or the potential for legal fights, other states of all political leanings are pumping the brakes on their work requirements. Rather than charging ahead to implement potentially illegal and undoubtedly problematic Healthy Michigan work requirements, we urge the state to reconsider.”

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The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.mlpp.org, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.