For Immediate Release | March 30, 2020
LANSING — Leaders with Alliance for Safety and Justice (ASJ) and Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice applaud Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order to protect those working at Michigan’s correctional facilities along with at risk populations in prisons, jails and detention centers across the state during the COVID-19 pandemic. Gov. Whitmer’s executive order prioritizes public health, encouraging safe release and health-focused policies that are important to protect the health and safety of all Michigan communities.
Robert Rooks, CEO of Alliance for Safety and Justice, said: “Governor Whitmer has taken one of the strongest actions of any governor in the nation to safely reduce incarceration and protect public health. It smartly recognizes that prisons, jails, and other correctional facilities are places where illness can spread like wildfire, and, as people churn through, expose communities. This important step provides protection for all those who work at or are incarcerated in Michigan’s prisons, county jails, local lockups and juvenile detention centers across the state, and their families. It also takes critical steps to protect children in the juvenile system by widely discouraging detention in most circumstances, besides those with substantial public safety risk.”
Governor Whitmer’s executive order is comprehensive by seeking to reduce unnecessary confinement in all systems across the state, including state prisons, local jails and juvenile facilities. It identifies vulnerable populations and those who are better served outside of detention facilities, establishing clear criteria for safe and responsible releases. These include the elderly, pregnant, people with chronic medical conditions or behavioral health issues, and those who are nearing release or incarcerated for failure to pay or appear, among others. It also strongly encourages the elimination of juvenile detention, unless there’s a substantial public safety risk, and suspends the use of detention or placement for technical violations of juvenile probation.
Aswad Thomas, Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice leader: “Gov. Whitmer’s order to support the Michigan Department of Corrections in safely reducing incarceration as a way to protect public health demonstrates national leadership to prioritize health and safety.”
The Alliance for Safety and Justice is a national organization that aims to win new safety priorities in states across the country. We partner with leaders to advance state reform through networking, coalition building, research, education and advocacy. We also bring together diverse crime survivors to advance policies that help communities most harmed by crime and violence.
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