Whitmer announces employment program for non-violent defendants


LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s latest proposal would give as many as 450 defendants in three Michigan counties the opportunity to maintain employment.

The program would invest $5.5 million so that defendants accused of low-level, nonviolent crimes in Wayne, Genesee and Marquette an opportunity to obtain and maintain gainful employment.

The proposal is modeled after MDOC programs like Vocational Village, which began in 2016. The Village program has given training in automotive technology, welding, robotics, computer coding, commercial truck driving, forklift operation, carpentry, plumbing, electrical trades, and concrete and masonry work.

Funding for the pilot program comes from the MI Safe Communities framework.

Individuals who qualify for Jobs Court would be matched with participating employers to work a good-paying job with benefits, opportunity, and training to learn transferable career skills.

Defendants would be required to maintain frequent and open communication with their employer as well as the State of Michigan to ensure accountability and compliance with the requirements of the program and will be eligible for wraparound services such as mental healthcare, transportation to and from work, and access to a social worker.

The Jobs Court proposal we unveiled today will make a crucial difference for Michiganders, their families, and communities. Jobs Court will help address the backlog in our court system, fill job openings across the state, grow our economy, and connect those in need with critical resources. I’m thankful for the hard work of Attorney General Nessel in putting this proposal together and look forward to working with the legislature to get it done.” 

Governor Gretchen Whitmer

Prosecutors would have the option to dismiss charges against Jobs Court participants who complete the one-year program.   

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