It’s no secret by now that 2020 is an unusual year. From the way we work to the way we send kids to school, and even the way we keep in touch with loved ones who are incarcerated, nearly everything we do is being done differently this year. So hopefully, it won’t come as a surprise to you that this year’s Safe & Just Michigan Annual Meeting will be different than previous years as well.

This year, to protect everyone’s safety and health, we will be holding a Virtual Annual Meeting. Our annual event will take place on Thursday, Oct. 8 at 6 p.m. We will still be bringing you an evening of conversations, information and activism — just as we’ve done every year — but we’re doing it in a different format this time. This won’t be a simple teleconference. We’re going to have video presentations, question-and-answer opportunities and more. We want this to be a vibrant and meaningful event for everyone who participates.

We’re bringing you a lineup of headline presenters for the evening, too. Desmond Meade and Neil Volz — the president and deputy director, respectively, of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition — will take part in a moderated discussion about how they worked to bring back voting rights to Floridians with a felony on their criminal record. Voters in that state overwhelmingly decided justice-involved people should have the right to vote, but the story didn’t end there. The state Legislature then passed a law stating that all court fees and restitution would have to be paid off before voting rights could be restored — a law that Meade and Volz continue to fight in the courts. Hear the latest from them, and let their story inspire you to continue our work to expand criminal justice reform in Michigan.

You’ll also get to hear from Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II as he accepts our Gov. William G. Milliken Award for his dedication to criminal justice reform. Lt. Gov. Gilchrist helped lead the Michigan Joint Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration, which released 18 recommendations to improve the state of Michigan’s justice system. Those recommendations have started to become the basis for legislation, which we hope will be passed into law. Lt. Gov. Gilchrist has also been appointed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to head a task force to investigate the racial disparity among people affected by COVID-19. In August, the governor declared racism a public health crisis.

Safe & Just Michigan will also be marking some special milestones as an organization. This year marks our 20th anniversary, and we’ll be looking back at our accomplishments over two decades — and where we hope to go from here. We’ll also be thanking some board members who are stepping down after giving a combined 50 years of service to SJM between them — an incredible gift of leadership and service.

And there’s more. Whether you want to hear the latest on legislation like Clean Slate or the jails task force bills, get an update on criminology research from our Research Specialist Dr. Anne Mahar, hear a forecast on the legislative year-to-come from Executive Director John S. Cooper and Policy Analyst Josh Hoe — or just enjoy watching Outreach Director Troy Rienstra and Community Engagement Specialist Rick Speck as they welcome you to the event, the 2020 Safe & Just Michigan Virtual Annual Meeting has a lot to offer.

Registering for the event is easy. Just go to to get your ticket. Tickets are $10 to offset the cost of bringing the meeting to people in this new format. However, we don’t want cost to be the reason anyone decides not to take part. Complimentary tickets are available to people with a financial need — just email for more information.

Still unsure why you should take part in the Safe & Just Michigan 2020 Virtual Annual Meeting on Thursday, Oct. 8? We asked SJM staffers what they’re looking forward to the most, and here’s what they had to say:




THURSDAY, OCT. 8 at 6 P.M.