2021 Quarter 4 | The Council of State Governments (CSG) | Midwestern Legislative Conference (MLC)
MLC Criminal Justice & Public Safety Committee Newsletter
Co-Chair North Dakota Rep. Shannon Roers Jones
Co-Chair Illinois Sen. Robert Peters
Vice Chair Nebraska Sen. John McCollister
Upcoming Events
*All times are Central Time
January 19, 2022:

February 11, 2022:

July 10-13, 2022:

August 26-30, 2022:

August 27-31, 2022:

December 7-10, 2022:
Committee Happenings
Although in some ways 2021 may have felt like 2020 never ended, it was also a year that saw the passage of several criminal justice initiatives in statehouses across the region.

At the very beginning of the year during Lame Duck session, lawmakers in Illinois were able to pass an omnibus criminal justice package spearheaded by the Legislative Black Caucus. Included in the over 700-page law were measures that decreased penalties for certain offenses, mandated body cameras for police officers, changed parole supervision guidelines, and required law enforcement departments to report various data figures to the state. One of the largest accomplishments of the new law, however, was a commitment by the state to phase-out cash bail by January 2023.

Indiana also saw the passage of an omnibus criminal justice package in 2021, with more of a focus on policing. With leadership also provided by the state's Legislative Black Caucus, lawmakers were able to introduce de-escalation curriculum into state-run law enforcement academies and redesigned officer decertification processes in an effort to better weed out bad actors who previously moved from one department to another in an attempt to avoid professional punishment. Additionally, the new law redefined chokeholds as a use of lethal force and, like Illinois, mandated body cameras for officers.

In Minnesota, lawmakers passed a comprehensive measure to address multiple changes in police action. The new law regulates the use of no-knock warrants and enforces updated warrant guidelines for individuals who miss their scheduled court dates. Additionally, the law made changes to the officer disciplinary process, required 911 operators to work in tangent with mental health providers when responding to certain emergency calls, introduced new penalties for people who purposely reveal personal information about an officer in an attempt to harm them, and established new safety rules for jails.

These examples and more demonstrate the wide reach this committee's policy focus can have in reforming governmental systems and impacting people's lives for the better. To all of you, have a safe and happy holiday break and here's to future criminal justice accomplishments in 2022.

P.S. Be on the lookout soon for an upcoming webinar series hosted by the MLC's Social Justice Forum on public policy related to criminal justice and social equity.
CSG Justice Center Updates
The strength of an effective incarceration and rehabilitation experience can be judged by the successful manner in which an ex-offender re-enters society upon release.

In an effort to aid offenders and policymakers alike, the Council of State Government's Justice Center developed the publication "Preparing People for Reentry: Checklist for Correctional Facilities". The resource provides detailed assessments regarding new living arrangements, health needs, legal discharge logistics, and special considerations to protect against COVID-19 — all elements needed for a smooth transition out of prison.

Looking at the Council of State Governments as a whole, researchers from the national office teamed up with the National Association of State Budget Officers to breakdown how states are spending their federal American Rescue Plan dollars. The state-by-state database can be found HERE

Included in several states' spending plans were appropriations for criminal justice and public safety initiatives. Examples include $50 million in grants to fund violence prevention programs in Illinois and around $14 million to help Minnesota courts address a substantial case backlog.

Finally, if you didn't have a chance to participate in the Justice Center's national conference "Taking the Call" held back in October, you can still check out workshop session recordings and related presentation materials on their website.

In addition, the Justice Center has released a series of resource publications related to the conference's core topic area of law enforcement and behavioral health collaborations and strategies.
Criminal Justice News
Voters in Minneapolis Rejected A Proposal To Replace City's Police with Community Responders
During this year's general election, Minneapolis voters overwhelmingly rejected a ballot measure that would have replaced the city's police department with a team of social workers and other public safety responders. Support for the measure grew out of last year's killing of George Floyd by members of the Minneapolis police force.

Some opponents viewed the results as a rejection of the "defund the police" movement. Other opponents argued the proposed "Department of Public Safety" lacked a clear plan of transition or failed to address issues central to the strife between law enforcement and minority residents.

For more information about why the ballot measure failed through the perspective of a local reporter, check out the linked article by Slate.

Illinois Governor Declares Gun Violence a Public Health Crisis, Outlines Investment Plan for High-Crime Areas
Gov. JB Pritzker signed an executive order declaring gun violence in Illinois a "public health crisis." Over the next three years, the state will invest $250 million toward violence prevention programs in high-crime communities — geographic locations that reported the highest number of per capita fatal and non-fatal firearm-shot victims (excluding self-inflicted cases) between January 1, 2016 and December 31, 2020.

The act also creates a new internal division within the Illinois Department of Human Services — the Office of Firearm Violence Prevention. This office will allocate grant funding and provide technical assistance to various organization types working with specified service areas.

For more information, check out the linked article by Chicago's PBS station WTTW.

Ohio Releases a Public Online Database Documenting Police Officer Use-of-Force Statistics
The Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services has unveiled a new online database detailing various statistics related to law enforcement use-of-force. Data is voluntarily reported by police and sheriff's departments from across the state.

Information reported in the database includes the number of times officers have fired their weapons while on duty, the number of times non-lethal weapons have been used against individuals, and the number of times officers have physically restrained a person — referred to as "empty hand techniques".

To date, the database reflects the reporting from over 200 law enforcement agencies. According to the information reported, there have been more than 5,500 instances of law enforcement use-of-force in Ohio since 2018.

For more information, check out the linked article by the Vindicator.

Michigan's 'Jobs Court' Proposal Would Give Low-Level Offenders Paid Jobs Instead of Incarceration
Instead of a prison sentence, some low-level offenders in Michigan may have the opportunity to gain on-the-job training skills. Known as "Jobs Court", the proposed pilot program would allow certain residents in Marquette, Genesee, and Wayne Counties to plead guilty and then secure paid employment for one year.

If the person is able to stay in the program and demonstrate growth, their criminal charges will be wiped away. If not, they would face incarceration something public officials would like to avoid.

The program is among a package of criminal justice proposals outlined in Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's "MI Safe Communities" plan.

For more information, check out the linked article by the Detroit Free Press.
Thank you for reading. Watch for the next edition in March 2022.
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