Ingham County, Mich. (WLNS) — Ingham County Sheriff Scott Wriggelsworth has been gathering elected officials to talk about Ingham County Prosecutor Carol Siemon’s controversial felony firearm charging policy.
On August 10, Siemon released a new policy that said they would no longer issue charges for felony firearms unless extreme circumstances warrant the charge.
Examples of that include:
- When other charges that could apply don’t address the circumstances of the case.
- When there isn’t a witness and they can’t meet the burden for other applicable charges.
At the time, Wriggelsworth called the policy change “garbage” while speaking about it in a press conference.
The current Michigan felony firearm statue holds a mandatory 2, 5 or 10 years sentence upon conviction. The Ingham County’s Sheriff’s Office is asking Prosecutor Carol Siemon to reconsider her internal felony firearm charging policy.
“In light of unprecedent gun violence in our county and here locally in Ingham County, we elected leaders in charge of running our respective cities, villages and townships ask Prosecutor Carol Simeon to reconsider her internal felony firearm charging policy,” Wriggelsworth said.
Wriggelsworth began to schedule individual meetings with the elected city mayors, township supervisors and village presidents to engage and discuss the policy on Aug. 16.
Wriggelsworth’s primary focus was to get feedback from the local officials, and see how they felt about the policy.
Wriggelsworth has met with all 23 elected officials representing their respective units of government.
21 of 23 elected officials signed a document that said the policy “does not hold the people criminally accountable, and increases the likelihood of additional gun violence in the communities we are tasked to govern, lead, serve, and protect,” Wriggelsworth said.
Siemon responded with the following statement:
“During my tenure as the prosecutor, I’ve worked to reform the system, consistent with the approach that we have had since first joining the campaign in 2016 and advocating, “Progressive changes in the criminal justice system.”
During my first term in office, the number of persons imprisoned from Ingham County was reduced by 37%. At the same time, though, we saw that among the population of those whose cases were handled by our office, we have had the same racial disparity. For example, the 12 percent of the population that is black continues to make up 40 percent of our cases. Shrinking the system – decarceration – is not enough by itself.
Working with the Vera Institute of Justice, the Metro Lansing Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation project, and others, we are taking a closer look at the policies and the types of cases that create racial disparity. There is a movement for progressive changes in the system, and the murder of George Floyd at the hands of police brought the issues to focus. The voices of protest and calls for change have energized and inspired us to do more and do better to create real justice.
I believe there are public safety considerations that encompass not only jailing and incarcerating offenders, but also limiting the kinds of inappropriate stops and searches of Black Americans that also have public safety consequences.
I’ve read this correspondence and appreciate these views. At the same time, I have a responsibility to lead the prosecutor’s office and have been twice chosen to do so by the people of Ingham County. The policies that we have developed were research-based and we will continue to incorporate ongoing data into the development of future policies. We have developed an ongoing set of reforms – addressing public safety, mass incarceration, and racial equity – and I can assure the public that we are not going to reverse course on bringing about change.”Carol A. Siemon, Ingham County Prosecuter