LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – “To me, it was an easy one when you see the extreme racial disproportionality and the fact that it doesn’t make our communities safer to say let’s not do this anymore.”
A felony firearms charge could be added whenever someone commits a felony was in possession of a gun, even if wasn’t used in the crime. Prosecutor Siemon says in Ingham county, 80% of the people serving time for a felony firearm charge are black.
She says the law was not intended to do what it does now.
“The original reason that the statute was enacted in 1976 was to try to deter people from carrying a firearm in inappropriate situations… And it has done nothing in the years since then except send more black people and it has not created additional public safety,” she said.
This is just the latest of Siemon’s actions trying to address inequalities in the justice system.
Last month, she said her office would not pursue criminal charges resulting from non-public safety traffic stops like a broken tail light or tinted windows.
We reached out to Lansing police for comment, but this is all they would say tonight.
“I’m not going to talk about that tonight. I will be at the press conference the sheriff will have in the morning and we’ll speak more about that then.”
Ingham county Sherriff Scott Wigglesworth was outspoken about prosecutor Siemon’s last policy change.
“Our prosecutor is choosing not to prosecute many of these; no consequences or accountability. None. Zero. Simply giving people a free pass on many major felony offenses.”
Siemon says she knows not everyone will agree with her. But ultimately her hope is to keep people safe.
“People are resistant to change and institutions are very resistant to change. So I’m looking at national data, Michigan data, local data. My goal is to make sure we target our resources to really make sure we get the best outcomes for everybody.”