I hope you are doing well during these uncertain times. I wanted to remind you about a few upcoming events this week and share information about legislation that has been introduced to reform our criminal justice system.
Tuesday, July 28: Virtual Citizenship Day
At 6:00 p.m., please join me, Councilmember Raquel Castaneda-Lopez, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, and the International Institute of Metropolitan Detroit, to learn about the citizenship application process and why citizenship is important. To register, go to https://bit.ly/D6Citizen.
Friday, July 31: Virtual Coffee Hour
At 10:30 a.m., please join me for a virtual coffee hour to share updates and answer questions and concerns. You can attend this virtual event at facebook.com/stephaniechangmi.
Petition against hazmat on bridge delivered to Governor Whitmer
The Detroit International Bridge Company has actively been working to persuade the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and the Governor to grant them the ability to move hazardous materials across the Ambassador Bridge. Last month, I wrote a letter expressing my concerns and opposition to this request, and I have been in direct communication with the Governor's office and MDOT.
Last week, I hand-delivered the community petition urging the state to deny the Detroit International Bridge Company's request. This is an old, privately owned bridge that has restricted government agencies from performing regular inspections and has been in disrepair. Additionally, there is no fire suppression plan that we know of, and unlike bridges that currently allow HazMat, the Ambassador Bridge does not have separated lanes for passenger and cargo. If trucks are permitted to transport hazardous materials across it, this would be a huge risk to the health, safety, and environment of the surrounding community.
I want to thank the 442 residents in the area who signed on to this petition, opposing this measure for various health and safety concerns.
An update on criminal justice reform efforts
Last Wednesday, The Joint Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration announced 18 policy proposals that are designed to significantly decrease the population of those incarcerated in Michigan’s county jails.
Pew researchers found that Michigan jail populations had nearly tripled over the last four decades while crime rates dropped. Public safety, jails, and courts are the third-largest cost for Michigan counties after public works and public health. In 2017 alone, Michiganders spent $478 million on county jails, or nearly $6 million per county, on average.
The task force recommends eliminating driver license suspensions as a punishment except for driving-related crimes; halting requirements for inmates to pay for incarcerations; reducing arrests for failing to appear in court; ending mandatory minimum sentences for misdemeanors and other reforms.
Many recommendations have already been introduced in the state Legislature, and last Thursday, more were introduced, including bills that would reduce the number of people in jail for probation and parole violations, increase the use of ‘jail alternatives’ for sentencing, and allow defendants to resolve low-level warrants without being arrested.
I am proud to be part of this bipartisan bill package, led by my colleague Senator Sylvia Santana, that will bring much needed change to our justice system. My bill, Senate Bill 1049, will expand the eligibility for young people to be given Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA) status, up to age 25. All current processes and exclusions will still apply. These individuals will receive probation and a conviction will not go on their record.
I look forward to continuing work on this important issue and look forward to these bills advancing through the legislative process over the next several months.
Thank you for reading this update. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to my office if I can be of any assistance.