Justice reform task force sends report to Legislature

LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — A bipartisan effort to try to implement criminal justice reforms took a major step forward in Lansing Tuesday.

After months of hearings and fact finding, a task force headed up by the lieutenant governor and the Michigan Supreme Court’s chief justice delivered its report to the state House of Representatives and Senate.

The document listed more than a dozen recommendations, from how to deal with suspects before trial and even making some traffic infractions civil rather than criminals.

>>PDF: Read the full report

Supporters say it isn’t about going easy on crime.

“We are an outlier here in the state of Michigan when it comes to criminal justice reform,” Speaker of the House Lee Chatfield, R-Levering, said. “When we look at how we prosecuted and how many people we had in the system in 1979 compared to how many we have today, you’re doubling it. We ought to be ashamed that we haven’t done enough for the people who are in the system here in the state of Michigan. So this is not about being soft on crime, it’s not about being tough on crime — it’s about being smart on crime.”

State Rep. David LaGrand, D-Grand Rapids, has been talking about criminal justice reform since he arrived in Lansing.

“This is a roadmap for all kinds of things that we could be doing and, I mean, it’s not the end,” LaGrand said. “…Expungement is a huge piece of that, which is not directly related, but this is a huge piece.”

It remains to be seen how the Legislature will use the report to come up with new regulations.