Runestad named to bipartisan criminal justice reform panel

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Jim Runestad announced Friday that he has been appointed by Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey to a bipartisan, statewide panel on criminal justice reform.

The Michigan Joint Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration will evaluate justice systems in the state and make recommendations for statewide policy and budgetary changes.

“It is an honor to be appointed to this important task force,” said Runestad, R-White Lake. “We need to find solutions to problems in the system. As the governor has pointed out, crime rates are down, and the number of people in jail is up.

“I look forward to working with the diverse group of individuals on the task force to discover ways we can improve criminal justice while protecting victims and the most vulnerable in society.”

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer established the task force last month by executive order. Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist and Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack will serve as co-chairs.

“I’m pleased that one of the guiding objectives of the task force is to provide services and support to crime victims,” Runestad said. “In our work of reform, we must always strive to improve our care of victims.”

Other guiding objectives of the task force include expanding jail alternatives for those who can be managed in the community; safely reducing jail admissions, length of stay and associated costs; and supporting consistent, objective and evidence-based pretrial decision-making.

The 21-member task force is expected to begin meeting over the summer and will complete its work and issue a final report of findings and policy recommendations in January.