Support Michigan Prison Reform

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Dear Friends,

Below is a petition supporting the 10-Point Michigan Prison Reform Platform. The petition calls on lawmakers to pass legislation which will positively impact every prisoner in the State of Michigan serving a short- or long-term sentence.

Each time the petition is signed it will deliver an email to your respective State Senator and State Representative with the message that appears in the template letter below. It only takes a few brief moments of your time to sign the petition.

We are currently developing a social media media page people can use to interact with others about important Michigan prison reform which will be available in the future. We are also in conversations about creating a political action committee and massive email listserv people can join to receive suggestions in the future about elected candidates to support around the state who support prison reform.

Elected officials we will create lists to support will include candidates for Governor, Attorney General, state senators, state representatives, mayors, as well as county judges, prosecutors, and sheriffs. We will be diligently working to replace incumbents seeking office who do not support prison reform or abuse the powers of their office.

There are currently 100,000 Michigan residents in contact with the criminal justice system (i.e., in prison, jail, on parole, or probation), and tens of thousands of people formerly in contact with the criminal justice system. If they collectively invite family members and friends to support our platform we will be able to galvanize a powerful voting block exceeding a million voters to support this campaign and future progressive efforts.

Please circulate the petition link widely via social media platforms, email, listservs, post to blogs and websites, and invite others to do the same. If you want to see true prison reform in Michigan and an end to failed criminal justice policies we urge you to sign this petition and support our movement for change.

In Solidarity,

The Injustice Must End (TIME) Committee


SAMPLE LETTER TO LEGISLATORS

Dear Legislator,

I am writing to express support for the 10-point Michigan prison reform platform that appears below.

There are currently 100,000 Michigan residents in contact with the criminal justice system (i.e., in prison, jail, on parole, or probation). Of that number 95% will return to society one day.

Rather than try to rehabilitate these individuals and equip them with the skills to become productive members of society upon release they are being warehoused and allowed to deteriorate mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

The trauma and devastating impact of long-term incarceration is reflected in recent studies which reveal that the life span of prisoners is reduced by two years for every year they spend in prison.

It is unconscionable to wastefully spend one of every four dollars of our annual budget (i.e., $2 billion) to fund the operational costs of our prison and parole system despite there being a consistent drop in crime for over a decade while a vast number of our citizens endure painful social misery daily like hunger, poverty, and homelessness.

The impact is further magnified by the repeated closing of precious public schools and gross neglect of infrastructure projects (e.g., roads, bridges, etc.). I join the vast chorus of voices who refuse to allow the shameful closing of one more school in this state while we spend $31,000 to imprison each incarcerated citizen beyond the time necessary to rehabilitate them. Our children's lives and intellectual structures can not be sacrificed because elected officials wish to remain tone deaf to the concerns of their constituency.

The addiction to constructing prisons as the solution to the crime problem has been an abysmal failure that has destroyed an untold number of lives and manifested itself as the school-to-prison pipeline. This rage to punish has also created crushing images of self-contempt, personal alienation, and a poverty of thought.

I encourage you to introduce legislation to support the reform platform listed below and invite other legislators to support it as well:

10-Point Michigan Prison Reform Platform

1. Abolish life without parole (LWOP) sentences for all juvenile offenders, revise MCL 769.25 to allow juvenile lifers to receive meaningful parole eligibility annually after serving 15 years, and allow juvenile offenders convicted under MCL 769.25 to receive good time and disciplinary credits, which is currently not allowed.

2. Restore good time eligibility so prisoners can earn early release for completion of rehabilitative programming and demonstration of positive behavior.

3. End Michigan's failed truth in sentencing policy which is largely responsible for maintaining a large prison population despite a widely recognized consistent statistical drop in crime for several years.

4. End mandatory minimum sentences and give discretion to judges to impose sentences based on all the facts of an individual case since no two cases are the same.

5. Institute presumptive parole for prisoners who complete all parole program requirements and screen high probability of parole so prisoners are not arbitrarily denied paroles they have fairly earned.

6. Stop sending women to prison who have been the victims of violence for defending themselves against their abusers.

7. Increase rehabilitative programming opportunities for all prisoner demographics, including those serving long sentences since 95% of all prisoners will become returning citizens one day.

8. Allow the Parole Board to obtain jurisdiction over prisoners serving long indeterminate sentences and begin annually reviewing them for parole consideration after they have served 20 years; and allow prisoners with drug offenses prior to 2003 who received multiple consecutive sentences for a case arising out of a single drug transaction to receive concurrent sentences as other offenders receive with the same circumstances who were arrested subsequent to 2003.

9. Allow prisoners serving parolable life sentences to become eligible for parole review/release annually after serving 20 years; and allow prisoners serving non-parolable life sentences to become eligible for parole review/release annually after serving 25 years.

10. Reduce the predatory pricing of prisoner phone calls from $.20 per minute to $.10 per minute to help prisoners maintain family and community ties and foster rehabilitation.

All proposed reforms should have retroactive application and apply to every prisoner who was convicted under the statute applicable to them.

It is time to reinvest in education and prevention programs by reopening schools and putting teachers back to work. We need to also invest in a youth development board like other states have who recognize the value of engineering a world class education.

We are actively pursuing the development of a massive voting block consisting of family members and friends of prisoners, others currently entangled in the criminal justice system, and formerly incarcerated citizens to make prison reform a reality. Also included will be a colossal number of other citizens who view mass incarceration as a failed solution to the crime problem.

The alliance of voters who support this campaign is growing daily and we are committed to keep expanding it until legislation is passed to support our efforts. This will require citizens to ensure that we begin supporting candidates for office who support our reform agenda.

An organized effort to oppose candidates for office at the ballot box during the next election cycle, including incumbents, who do not support our efforts will be vigorously mounted. Conversely, candidates for elected office who express support for our reform agenda will be able to rely on our unified voting block to support their pursuit of office.

While we support punishment for breaking the law, we recognize that punishment alone is not a realistic solution to changing behavior. Once we incarcerate beyond the time necessary to correct errant behavior that treatment becomes unforgiving, cruel, and inhumane.

It is un-American to utilize failed policies against our citizenry that have been abandoned by many civilized nations in the world. It is also hypocritical to condemn the mistreatment of people by foreign nations abroad while we mistreat citizens in our own state.

I ask that you stand on the right side of history and support our prison reform efforts. It is time to employ a sensible, humane approach that begins with implementing the platform proposed above.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 



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