LANSING, Mich., Sept. 24, 2020 — Sponsored by state Rep. Tim Sneller (D-Burton), the House passed House Bill 5854 yesterday, which would eliminate certain mandatory minimums from Michigan’s motor vehicle code that currently exist for offenses such as operating while intoxicated and several other misdemeanors. The bill passed the House unanimously, and is part of an extensive bipartisan jail reform package from the Joint Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration.
“Mandatory minimums have long been a plague on our criminal justice system,” said Sneller. “Leaving no room for prosecutors and judges to take into consideration the nuance of unique situations only leads to punishments that often far outweigh what a defendant truly deserves. Our package would simply provide that opportunity for discretion, helping to curb overcrowding in our jails, and ensure residents of our state are afforded the opportunities for true justice they deserve.”
Half of all court filings in Michigan are for traffic misdemeanors, many unrelated to driving safety, which clog the courts with cases and often lead to unnecessary incarceration. Thousands each year are sentenced to jail for low level offenses because of these mandatory minimums that leave prosecutors and judges with no room to consider the circumstances of individual cases. The package now moves to the Senate for consideration.