LANSING, Mich., Oct. 19, 2021 — Today, David LaGrand (D-Grand Rapids) and a group of bipartisan legislators introduced a bill package aimed at reforming Michigan’s cash bail system and creating a fairer pre-trial process. Their bills would create more efficient court processes, implement more structured bail decision-making, strengthen due process rights, delink interim bond practices from the ability to pay, and require a review of pretrial risk assessment instruments.
Nearly two-thirds of people housed in Michigan jails are awaiting trial, are delinquent on child support, or have violated their parole. The current system has a disproportionate impact on poorer citizens and those in vulnerable communities.
“If you talk to people working in the justice system, they’ll tell you cash bail and many other pretrial practices are outdated, ineffective, and costly. Cash bail doesn’t protect our communities: it siphons money, opportunity, and parents away from them. Simply being jailed during pretrial means potentially losing your job, car, housing, or even custody of your child. Reforming these practices means a fairer and more just system that isn’t a burden on the taxpayer.”
The bill package consists of eight bills which align closely with recommendations from the interbranch Joint Task force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration:
- HB 5436, sponsored by Rep. Andrew Fink (R-Hillsdale) implements a tiered framework for judges to consider pretrial release based on risk, reserves cash bail for people with more serious offenses, and requires data collection to improve processes.
- HB 5437, sponsored by Rep. Tenisha Yancey (D-Detroit) allows defendants to request review of deficient bail decisions and of restrictive release conditions after they’ve complied for 60 days, with some offense restrictions.
- HB 5438, sponsored by Rep. Greg VanWoerkom (R-Norton Shores), requires that detained people be seen by a judge within 48 hours of arrest and ensures that cases go to trial within 18 months of detention in most cases.
- HB 5439, sponsored by Rep. Stephanie Young (D-Detroit), requires that for non-serious misdemeanor defendants safe to release on interim bond, their release is not tied to paying money.
- HB 5440, sponsored by Rep. David LaGrand, implements a process for review and approval of pretrial risk assessment tools by the State Court Administrative Office.
- HB 5441, sponsored by Rep. Steve Johnson (R-Wayland), eliminates a duplicative section of statute to reduce confusion for judges and practitioners.
- HB 5442, sponsored by Rep. Luke Meerman (R-Coopersville), eliminates driver’s license surrender as a pretrial release condition.
- HB 5443, sponsored by Rep. Tommy Brann (R-Wyoming,) ensures people detained on child support cases receive the same pretrial release considerations as others.