REFORM Alliance Sees Major Legislative Victory

January 5, 2021 0
reform_alliance_blog_cover REFORM Alliance Sees Major Legislative Victory

REFORM Alliance – co-founded by Robert Kraft, Meek Mill, Michael Rubin, Shawn “JAY-Z” Carter, Clara Wu Tsai, Michael Novogratz, Dan Loeb, Robert Smith and Laura Arnold, with Van Jones as CEO – announced that it has successfully passed laws that will transform Michigan’s probation and parole system that will help thousands of people get out of the criminal justice system safely.

The new set of laws will reduce adult probation sentences in Michigan from five years to three years, prevent endless extensions on misdemeanor and felony probation terms (like what occurred with REFORM co-chair Meek Mill in Pennsylvania), limit jail sanctions for technical probation violations and require parole supervision terms to be tailored to a person’s risks and needs. 

REFORM Alliance announced that it successfully passed new laws Michigan – SB 1048SB 1050 and SB 1051 — that will significantly reshape the state’s probation and parole system and help thousands of people get out of the criminal justice system safely.

The new set of laws will reduce adult felony probation sentences in Michigan from five years to three years, prevent endless extensions on misdemeanor and felony probation terms (like what occurred with REFORM co-chair Meek Mill in Pennsylvania), limit jail sanctions for technical probation violations, and require parole supervision terms to be tailored to a person’s individualized risks and needs.

“It’s encouraging to watch bipartisan leaders from different states recognize the need for fair and rational legislation focused on creating second chances for those in the criminal justice system,” REFORM co-chair Michael Rubin said. “We’re incredibly thankful for Governor Whitmer for signing these bills into law and for the coalition of groups that supported us throughout this process. This is a tremendous victory for REFORM and a strong way to start 2021.”

Prior to Governor Gretchen Whitmer signing SB 1048, SB 1050, and SB 1051 into law, Michigan had the sixth highest rate of probation supervision in the country with 172,000+ adults on probation and 17,000 on parole, costing the state over $59 million per year.

Now, by passing REFORM’s bills, Michigan is on pace to decrease overall caseloads by 8.4 percent, provide 12,500+ years of life back and save taxpayers $29.6 million that could be reinvested into evidence-based anti-recidivism programs that put people on a path to success.

“This bipartisan legislation will bring meaningful change and opportunity to thousands of individuals and families across the state of Michigan,” REFORM CEO Van Jones said. “We thank Governor Whitmer for her fearless commitment and leadership to bolstering her state’s criminal justice system in a fair and balanced way. We look forward to continuing to work with her on impactful reform measures in the future.”

The victory in Michigan comes on the heels of a series of bipartisan legislative wins that REFORM has enjoyed in states across the country. In late-2020, REFORM helped pass AB 1950 in California, which is widely considered to be the most transformative probation reform bill in the United States and will decrease the state’s probation population by 33 percent, give 24,000+ life years back, and prevent 48,000+ prison admissions due to technical probation violations.

REFORM also worked on HB 77 in Louisiana, which was the first bill in the country to create a remote reporting system for people on probation. It allowed people to report to their probation officer remotely rather than being forced to leave a job, struggle to find transportation or childcare to meet with an office in-person and risk the chance of a technical probation violation. Additionally, REFORM helped pass HB 643 in Louisiana to create a pathway to reduce supervision and fines/fees for people on felony parole.

To pass SB 1048, SB 1050 and SB 1051 in Michigan in 2021, REFORM worked closely with several elected leaders and organizations across the political spectrum, including the ACLU of Michigan, the American Conservative Union, Americans for Prosperity, PEW, the Mackinack Center for Public Policy and Safe & Just Michigan.

Michigan’s criminal justice reforms are a positive achievement during a difficult and divisive year. The legislation provides a commonsense approach to justice reform by focusing on redemption, families, and safe communities while saving millions of dollars for Michigan taxpayers,” REFORM National Policy Director Erin Haney said. “Michigan’s efforts capstone a national movement that has seen bipartisan reform victories this year in red, purple, and blue states like California and Louisiana, and can be a model for other states seeking to fix broken criminal justice systems. REFORM Alliance is proud to have helped drive these state victories, and we look forward to working with bipartisan coalitions throughout the nation to support and pass more reforms in 2021.” 

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