News: Big Win in Michigan!

In December 2017 Michigan adopted a major reform to its drug sentencing laws. SB 72 and SB 73 (along with SB 220) eliminate life without parole for second and subsequent convictions for the “manufacture, delivery, possession with intent to manufacture or deliver, or simple possession of” between 50 and 1,000 grams “of a Schedule 1 or 2 narcotic or cocaine,” and create parole eligibility for offenders currently serving life without parole sentences for those offenses.

Longtime FAMM supporters will remember back in the late 1990s and early 2000s when we spearheaded the successful effort to repeal Michigan’s notorious “650-Lifer” drug mandatory minimum law. FAMM was happy to support SB 72 and 73, which help finish the work we started back then, and provide the possibility of relief from unnecessarily punitive sentences to those still suffering from the lingering effects of 650-Lifer. You can read FAMM’s letter in support of the bills here, and a letter of support from a conservative coalition here.    

As you can read in a summary of the bill here, a wide range of state-based and national groups across the political spectrum supported these bills, while “no arguments opposing the bills were offered.” It’s safe to say that Michigan — one of the first states to adopt mandatory minimum drug laws back in the early 1970s — has learned its lesson well. Here’s hoping other states follow their lead!

History of Legislation

In May 2017, FAMM and seven partner organizations delivered a letter to the Michigan Senate. The coalition praised Michigan’s past leadership in drug sentencing reform and urged lawmakers to now take the next step: repealing life without parole provisions in drug sentencing laws and creating parole eligibility for those currently serving life without parole for drug offenses.

HB 4694 was passed as a part of a package of laws which provides a framework by which judicial circuits may establish and run mental health courts.34 Specifically, this law permits circuit or district courts to establish mental health courts and defines the essential structure and characteristics to which they must adhere, including the types of services they should provide. The law allows courts to establish general eligibility requirements, including accepting individuals who have previously been placed on probation, participated in a similar program, or who have had criminal proceedings against them deferred.

The state passed additional reforms that provide earlier parole eligibility to most of the drug offenders who were not affected by the earlier reforms.

During this time, Michigan passed sweeping reforms of its mandatory minimum drug penalties. The legislature repealed almost all drug mandatory minimums, changed lifetime probation to a five-year probationary period and implemented new sentencing guidelines.  

Lawmakers repealed mandatory life sentences without parole for certain drug offenses and made those serving such sentences eligible for parole.


   Michigan Dept. of Corrections Budget: $1.2 billion 

   State Expenses: $1.3 billion 

   Avg Annual Cost per inmate: $28,117 

   State Population: 9.91 million

   State Incarcerated Population: 42,628 people

How You Can Advocate for Sentencing Reform in Your State

You can do several things to work toward reforming your state’s sentencing laws – go to our get involved page to find out how.

Encourage your state lawmakers to support mandatory minimum sentencing reform. Be sure to connect with FAMM and other sentencing reformers on Facebook, Twitter, and by signing up for our email list.

Sentencing/Criminal Justice Reform Groups in this State:

March 14, 2017

Anti-recidivism bills clear House, will soon reach governor

Originally seen in FOX17 LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan lawmakers approved legislation Wednesday aimed at keeping the more than 100,000 criminals under state supervision from committing new crimes, a move one supporter called a “milestone” shift in the treatment of offenders. Included in the 20-bill package is a proposal that would limit the length of incarceration… Read more »

March 7, 2017

Criminal Justice Reform: Lawmakers Work To Lower Costs, Increase Opportunity

Originally seen in Fox 17 News. LANSING, Mich. — Saving taxpayer money while reducing the number of inmates locked up in prison is the goal of new bipartisan reforms being pushed by state lawmakers. More than 42,000 people are currently incarcerated in Michigan, which costs an estimated $2 billion each year, making the Michigan Department of Corrections… Read more »

February 9, 2017

Michigan Senate passes bills aimed at reducing recidivism

Originally seen in Corrections One. LANSING — Criminal justice reform was a legislative priority left hanging in the 2016 lame-duck session of the Michigan Legislature. But on Thursday, a 21-bill package became the first proposals to get action in the Senate, with nearly all of the bills receiving unanimous support. “A problem that has plagued the state… Read more »