Governor creates new task force to help fight criminal justice issues

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Governor Gretchen Whitmer gathered with other state leaders earlier today as she signed an executive order and form the Michigan Joint Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration.

Some of the issues that the task force hopes to look into is overpopulation in jails, lessen the burden on County Jails for funding and expand jail alternatives.

According to the executive order, crime is at a 50 year low, but has been tripling over the last 35 years in Michigan.

Gov. Whitmer and other leaders, such as Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist, who says this is an opportunity to fix on-going issues.

“We have an opportunity to put more justice, back in the system that we call the criminal justice system,” Gilchrist.

Chief Justice of Michigan Supreme Court, Bridget McCormack, says it’s hard to gather the needed data to understand why the number of inmates is increasing because all of Michigan counties record that data in different way.

According to Gilchrist, gathering that information is at the top of the list.

“The first thing we need to do is gather data and understanding about the status quo and once we have a more clear picture, then we can look at what the right remedies are regarding to funding, regarding to process, regarding to laws,” said Gilchrist.

But what is the data?

“Who’s in jail, what are they in jail for, those types of things, we have general numbers out there, we have anecdotal data from county perspectives that populations are increasing but we don’t really have the details inside of those numbers,” said Executive Director of the Michigan Association of Counties, Stephan Currie.

One factor that’s also catching attention from state leaders is that taxpayers pay for inmates in jail. Executive Director of the Michigan Sheriffs Association, Blaine Koops, says nearly half of the people in jail are unsetenced, and keeping them in jail, awaiting their day in court, can get costly.

“It costs the same to detain them, as the people who have been found guilty” said Koops.

Pew Charitable Trusts, an independent non-profit, has committed a million dollars into the task force and is assisting with recording the data from around the state. Governor Whitmer says it will cover what the anticipate to spend.

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