Posts Tagged ‘jails’

Despite falling arrests, particularly among young people, tens of thousands of people in Michigan are still arrested for low-level charges like failure to appear in court, marijuana possession and shoplifting, the Michigan Jail and Pretrial Detention Task Force was told by researchers during the task force’s meeting in Grand Rapids on Sept. 20.

A team from PEW Trusts gave the task force a wide-ranging presentation on the trends and challenges in dealing with jail populations. The task force, a joint effort of the state and counties, was created by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer this spring.

Other points made by Pew during its report:

  • People are also going to jail in very large numbers for administrative rule-breaking like driving without a valid license and violating probation conditions. 
  • Officers issue fewer citations in lieu of arrest than they have in past years.  Overall, arrests far outnumber citations, even for low-level crimes.
  • Short jail stays disrupt hundreds of thousands of lives, but Michigan’s high jail populations are driven by relatively few people who stay in jail longer than a month. 

Panel members, including Kent County Commissioner Jim Talen and Alpena County Commissioner Bill Peterson, also received a briefing from Wayne State University on mental illness and substance abuse in Michigan jails.

The team, led by Sheryl Kubiak of the Wayne State Center for Behavioral Health and Justice, said that 23 percent of jail inmates exhibited serious mental illness (SMI), but with rates varying notably by the size of the county. In rural counties, for example, 34 percent were identified with SMI.

Also, inmates with SMI had average jail stays twice as long as those without SMI, when adjusting for criminal offense. Longer stays, of course, mean more strains on limited county budgets which must support jail operations.

“Identifying who is going to jail, for how long and why, is critical for the Task Force so they can fully understand the scope of our jail population and create recommendations that may result in savings for county budgets, while ensuring the public safety of our communities,” said Stephan Currie, MAC’s executive director.

The task force meets next on Oct. 18 in Detroit. Livestreaming will be available. Anyone is encouraged to connect with the Task Force in various ways:

Executive Director Steve Currie discusses county participation in a partnership with the state and Pew at an event in Lansing on April 17, 2019, as (left to right) Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist, Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack and Attorney General Dana Nessel look on.

Michigan’s 83 counties helped announce an innovative partnership with the state of Michigan and a national nonpartisan research group today to use data to identify best practices for jails.

The Michigan Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration, (#MICJReform) an interbranch, bipartisan body will develop recommendations to expand alternatives to jail, safely reduce jail admissions and length of stay, support crime victims and better align practices with research and constitutional principles, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced today at a press conference at the Hall of Justice in Lansing.

Speaking at the same event, MAC Executive Director Stephan Currie said, “Our focus is specifically on county jails and easing the burden on county budgets. Although created by executive order, this task force puts counties squarely at the center, and we’re very happy to launch this partnership together. We’ll all benefit from studying our practices.”

Click here to watch a video of the event.

Public safety, including jails, constitutes the single largest financial commitment from county governments. As detailed at today’s event:

  • National sources show Michigan jail populations have tripled in the last 35 years, growing regardless of whether crime was going up or down.
  • With crime now at a 50-year low, hundreds of thousands are still admitted to Michigan jails every year, and people are staying in jail longer on average than before.
  • Today, half of the people in Michigan’s local jails are un-convicted and constitutionally presumed innocent while they await trial.
  • Many of these individuals are in jail because they cannot afford bail, not necessarily because they are a flight risk or threat to public safety.

The task force will be supported by technical assistance staff from the Pew Charitable Trusts.

“The focus here will be on using data to drive solutions. Everyone is entering this effort with no preconceived notions and we are eager to partner with the state, Pew and others to make Michigan a leader in public safety,” Currie said.

stepping-up-logoThe National Association of Counties (NACo) urges counties to participate in the following call:

“Join the Stepping Up partners for the second Stepping Up Network Call: a deeper dive into the question “Do we conduct timely screening and assessments?” which is featured in the publication Reducing the Number of People with Mental Illness in Jails: Six Questions County Leaders Need to Ask. On this call, a representative from the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services will discuss specific mental health screening tools and protocols used in regional and local jails. In addition, representatives from Champaign County, IL, and Douglas County, KS, will be available to discuss their counties’ screening and assessment processes and respond to participants’ questions. Prior to the call, participants should join or review the “Conducting Timely Mental Health Screening and Assessment in Jails” webinar, which will occur on Thursday, April 6 at 2pm ET. The webinar will be recorded and posted on the Stepping Up Toolkit

Click here to register for the call.