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Task force makes recommendations to reduce Michigan county jail populations

courts.michigan.gov, michigan.gov

Michigan has a real shot at reducing its county jail population if it acts on some recent task force recommendations.

That’s what Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist and state Supreme Court Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack told the Detroit Economic Club on Tuesday. They co-chaired the task force.

Gilchrist said the panel tackled the question of why Michigan’s jail population has stayed high, even as crime has declined.

“We found that many people are in jail for reasons that they shouldn’t be," he said. "Because they can’t afford to get out, because they have driver’s license suspensions, and jail is not an effective way to get someone to pay a fine.”

Gilchrist and McCormack said they’re optimistic the state will pass comprehensive measures to reduce county jail populations.

McCormack said the task force members reached a strong consensus on those recommendations. And she said state lawmakers have pledged to make addressing them a priority.

“It’s one of the things I think people from all sides of the spectrum want to see done,” McCormack said.

The task force made 18 recommendations.

They include reducing driver’s license suspensions, and diverting people with mental health issues away from the criminal justice system.

Republican legislative leaders have said addressing the issue is a top priority for this session.

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Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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