Ingham Co. Prosecutor ends prosecuting of minor traffic-related crimes, Sheriff reacts

Michigan

INGHAM COUNTY, Mich. (WLNS) — Ingham County Prosecutor Carol Siemon announced today that the Prosecutor’s office will no longer pursue criminal charges against those pulled over non-public safety traffic stops. The change is a part of a new effort to address the effects of racial biases in the legal system.

Non-public safety stops are when a person is held for a minor traffic infraction, while police look for evidence of a more serious crime.

Communities are safer when the justice system is fair for every person, no matter their income, race, gender, or ability. It is possible to prioritize both public safety and a fair and equitable justice system without sacrificing one for the other. Today’s policy change meets an urgent need to reexamine and reconsider how policing practices can perpetuate racial injustice in the criminal legal system—or work in service of a more just system.”

Carol Siemon, Ingham County Prosecutor

According to a release from the Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office,

Evidence shows that non-public safety traffic stops often reflect racial bias, and police stop, question, and search people of color at higher rates than white people. In addition, these stops do not improve public safety, as the majority do not result in the discovery of contraband or weapons. When prosecutors condone non-public safety stops, they encourage police officers to focus on people, rather than actions, they deem “suspicious,” contributing to racial inequity in the criminal legal system.

Ingham County Sheriff Scott Wriggelsworth responded to the announcement, saying that the stance of the prosecutor is “beyond him”, and that while the prosecutor’s decision is unlikely to change, the Ingham County Sheriff’s Office will be continuing “business as usual.”

Wriggelsworth goes on to conclude the press conference, saying that his “last intention is to fill the Ingham County Jail”, but that there must be consequences for minor traffic violations.

To read more about the Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office Policy, click here.

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