Title: Victims are still not adequately protected in criminal procedure revisions bills.
Legislators in Michigan are looking to make changes to the state’s criminal procedure based on recommendations from the work of the Michigan Joint Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration (JTFJPI). As part of that effort, a 7-bill Criminal Procedure Revisions Package (SB1046 – SB1051) was introduced this year. These bills seek alternatives to jail for those who do not pose a threat to any individual or public safety.
Across Michigan, organizations and coalitions supporting victims and survivors of gender-based violence not only support the goal of the JTFJPI, and the current legislation, but appreciate the representation and consideration of survivors’ experiences and voices in the development of recommendations and the legislative process. However, significant concerns remain regarding SB 1046, 1047, 1050, and 1051. As currently drafted, these bills may weaken or eliminate important protections for victims – especially victims of violent crimes including domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and human trafficking. If not amended, these bills could pose significant threats to victims’ safety.
Reforms can be accomplished without sacrificing protections for victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking, and human trafficking. In these last weeks of the legislative session, your voice is needed now more than ever. We appreciate the changes that have been made to the bills in committee. We simply seek to ensure the protections that advocates and survivors have fought to include in state law over the last 30 years are included and that victims and survivors remain safe in the future.
WHAT YOU CAN DO RIGHT NOW?
Email your Michigan State Representative using the template below! You can find your representative here: www.house.mi.gov/mhrpublic/frmFindaRep.aspx
SAMPLE E-MAIL MESSAGE
SUBJECT: Greetings Representative [Last Name Here] – Concerns with SB 1046, SB 1047, SB 1050, and SB 1051
Dear Representative [Last Name Here],
I am contacting you today to express serious concerns with several of the bills in the Criminal Justice Procedure Revisions package currently before the House Judiciary Committee. As the package currently stands, these bills would impact victims and survivors in several ways.
- Dramatically expands the crimes eligible for appearance tickets, and creates a presumption for appearance tickets rather than warrantless arrest, in most misdemeanors punishable by 1-year or less. This encompasses many threatening and/or violent crimes which should be excepted, but currently are not, including misdemeanor stalking, aggravated assault, interfering with a crime report by physical force, and others.
- Allows for early probation discharge for several very serious crimes, which should be excluded. For example, it does not prohibit those who have been convicted of attempted criminal sexual conduct crimes, some child sexually abusive materials crimes, accosting a minor, other listed sex offenses, or certain human trafficking offenses from having their probation terms reduced by up to 50%. Early probation termination would also remove important victim protections such as ‘no contact’ orders and other victim safety provisions that were ordered as a condition of probation.
- Reducing the length of the term of probation that can be imposed at the time of sentencing for most felonies and misdemeanor stalking from 5 years to 3 years. This means less accountability for the perpetrator. As mentioned above, it also means less time that a ‘no contact’ order and other protective conditions are in place and less peace of mind for the victim. The amendment that allows an extension of probation for up to 2 more years, in one-year increments, means that to get protections for the same length of time available today, a victim would have to go back to court and relive the trauma to get probation extended, and that could happen twice.
In support of survivors and victims of sexual violence, domestic violence, and other forms of gender-based violence, I believe that criminal procedure revisions can be made that rightfully address the need for reforms in our current system without sacrificing protections and rights for victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking, and human trafficking.
Specifically, the following changes are needed to protect victims’ safety, rights, and access to justice:
- Except additional crimes from the presumption that law enforcement officers must issue an appearance ticket rather than effect a custodial arrest when responding to a crime (e.g. assault, assault & battery, stalking). SB 1046 (S-3) dramatically expands the crimes eligible for appearance tickets by extending both the opportunity and presumption for appearance tickets from 93 days to 1-year misdemeanors. This encompasses many threatening and/or violent crimes, such as misdemeanor stalking, assault and battery, aggravated assault, interfering with a crime report by physical force, and others. This concern can be remedied by adding “any offense involving threatened and/or actual harm to another person” to the appearance ticket presumption exceptions listed in subsection (5).
- Add “serious misdemeanors” (MCL 780.811 Sec. 61) to the crimes exempted from the more lenient provisions afforded under the revised warrant and summons provisions in SB 1047 (S-3). Without such an amendment, numerous crimes resulting in serious harm would be eligible including leaving the scene of a personal injury accident, threatening internet communications, DUI involving damage, injury or death, and several firearm offenses.
- Restore judicial discretion to order up to 5 years probation at the time of sentencing for most felonies and misdemeanor stalking in SB 1050 (S-2). The provision allowing for up to two 1-year extensions is insufficient as it would force victims to re-engage with the court and relive their trauma to have the same length of probation/protective conditions of release available under existing law.
- Expand the list of crimes not eligible for early probation discharge in SB 1050 (S-2) to include assault with intent to commit CSC, child sexually abusive materials crimes, accosting a minor, other listed offenses, and all human trafficking offenses.
- Strengthen victim input provisions in SB 1050 (S-2) [re: probation] and SB 1051 (S-2) [re: parole]. With these changes, the Criminal Procedure Revisions Package will rightfully address needed social justice reforms in our current system without sacrificing protections and rights for victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking, and human trafficking. Thank you for your consideration of our views
With these changes, the Criminal Procedure Revisions Package will rightfully address needed social justice reforms in our current system without sacrificing protections and rights for victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking, and human trafficking. Thank you for your consideration.