Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (center) signed an executive order earlier this year to form a 21-member task force set on reforming the state’s jail system. Pictured behind Whitmer are (from left) Stephan Currie, executive director of the Michigan Association of Counties; House Speaker Lee Chatfield, R-Levering; Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II; Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Bridget McCormack and Attorney General Dana Nessel. (Bridge photo by Lindsay VanHulle)


July 24, 2019 Written by: Riley Beggin

It’s a riddle at the heart of Michigan’s efforts to reform its criminal justice system: How can it be that the state’s county jail population has tripled over the past 50 years even as crime rates have plunged to levels not seen in generations?

Nobody seems to know.

One major reason is nobody at the state level knows much about the inmates being housed in county jails, or why they are there.

“Right now in Michigan there’s no person and no data set that can answer the question: Who’s in jail across the state, for how long, and why?,” said Terry Schuster, a project manager with the Pew Charitable Trusts.

The vast majority of Michigan’s 83 counties have their own record-keeping systems, making it difficult to assess ‒ much less compare or change ‒ incarceration policies that may contribute to crowded jail cells.

It’s a patchwork system that costs taxpayers roughly half a billion dollars a year.

Gathering such information at a statewide level is a task that now falls to the new Joint Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration, which meets for the first time Wednesday morning.

The task force, formed as a result of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order in April, is a bipartisan group of politicians, public defenders, victims advocates, corrections officers and others affected by the county jail system. to read more click here