The state Capitol is now in summer mode. Legislators are wrapping up work on their spring projects and getting ready to go back to their communities for their summer in-district work period, which means little action will be taking place in Lansing over the next few months. With that in mind, we thought we’d give you a status report on some of the criminal justice reform initiatives we’ve been supporting this year, starting with the bill packages that are closest to completing the legislative process:
- Sentencing Commission(HBs 4173, 4384; Senate Bills 376-377): These bills would create a sentencing commission (Criminal Justice Policy Commission) that would review and recommend legislative guidelines for criminal sentences in Michigan with the aim of more uniform and equitable sentencing statewide. The House versions of the bills have cleared the House floor and are Senate, while the Senate version of the bills are still waiting a vote on the floor of the Senate.
- Vital Documents(House Bills 4191-4194): These bills would require the state to provide people leaving prison with vital state-issued documents, such as a driver’s license and birth certificate. These documents are often required for tasks central to reestablishing life outside of prison, such as getting a job or setting up a bank account. These bills have cleared the House and are awaiting a hearing before the Senate Civil Rights, Judiciary and Public Safety Committee. That isn’t expected to happen until later this year.
- Ending Juvenile Life Without Parole(HBs 4160-4164; SBs 119-123): These bills would eliminate the possibility of sentencing a person under the age of 19 to life without parole in Michigan. Both sets of bills have had hearings before their respective committees (House Criminal Justice and Senate Civil Rights, Judiciary and Public Safety committees), but have yet to be voted out to their respective floors. Meanwhile, more states are joining the majority of states that have already banned the practice, with Illinois, Minnesota and New Mexico banning juvenile life without parole already in 2023.
- Productivity Credits (HBs 4450-4453): These bills would establish a system that allows people who are incarcerated to earn credits toward earlier parole eligibility by completing educational or vocational programs or meeting other goals. These bills have had a hearing before the House Criminal Justice Committee but have not yet been voted out to the House Floor.
- Second Look(HBs 4556-4560; SBs 321-25): These “Second Look” bills would create an opportunity for people who have served 10 years of a prison sentence to have an appearance before the parole board (note: this plan does not confer the guarantee of parole, just the opportunity to go before a judge). These bills have not yet have a hearing before the House Criminal Justice Committee.
- Bail Reform(HBs 4655-62): This new bail reform package was introduced on May 24 and hasn’t yet had a hearing before the House Criminal Justice Committee.