2020 Quarter 3 | The Council of State Governments | MLC Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee

MLC Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee Newsletter
In This Issue
Committee Happenings
CSG Justice Center Update
Criminal Justice News
Important Dates
*All times are Central Time

September 18: 

September 21: 

September 21: 

September 23: 

September 23: 

September 25: 

September 29: 

September 30: 

October 2: 

October 9: 

October 21-23: 

October 29: 

November 8-11: 

November 11-13:

December 9-10: 

July 11-14, 2021:

July 30-August 3, 2021:

August 20-24, 2021:
CSG Henry Toll Fellowship Program - Lexington, KY 
Quick Links
In case you missed it, the Midwestern Legislative Conference (MLC) Criminal Justice & Public Safety (CJPS) Committee held it's annual meeting via Zoom on Monday, September 14. The meeting was expertly moderated by the MLC CJPS Committee Officers; North Dakota Rep. Shannon Roers Jones, Illinois Sen. Mattie Hunter, and Indiana Sen. Michael Crider. 

Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Bridget McCormack speaks to the MLC CJPS Committee via Zoom
Attendees were treated to two fantastic guest presentations. The first featured Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Bridget McCormack. Chief Justice McCormack first joined the Michigan Supreme Court in January 2013 and became the Chief Justice in January 2019. Prior to her election to the Court, she was a law professor and dean at the University of Michigan Law School where she continues to teach. On September 14, she joined the committee to discuss the work of the Michigan Joint Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration, which she Co-Chairs with Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist. 

Chief Justice McCormack explained the formation of the task force and its public-private partnership with the Pew Charitable Trusts. One of the task force's main goals was collecting and analyzing the myriad of criminal justice data throughout Michigan's county jails. Once this data was analyzed, a few things stood out to Chief Justice McCormack. First, rural jail populations were growing faster than urban or suburban jails. Second, women, especially African-American women, were seeing the largest proportional increase in jail populations. Finally, driving without a valid license was the third most common reason for jail admission. 

With this information obtained, the task force delivered a set of 18 recommendations to the Michigan Legislature that are designed to improve state policies and curb rising jail incarceration rates. Chief Justice McCormack discussed these recommendations and how they can work together. The Michigan Legislature is currently considering several bill packages based on this report. 

Illinois' Senior Advisor to the Governor on Cannabis Control, Toi Hutchinson, speaks to the MLC CJPS Committee via Zoom
The second presentation featured Toi Hutchinson, Illinois' Senior Advisor to the Governor on Cannabis Control. Prior to serving in this role, Ms. Hutchinson served in the Illinois Senate from 2009-2019, representing the 40th District which includes a large are of Chicago's south suburbs. Before joining the Senate, she was the City Clerk for the Village of Olympia Fields, Illinois. While in the Senate, Ms. Hutchinson was a key Senate sponsor of HB 1438, which legalized recreational cannabis use. 

During her presentation, Ms. Hutchinson discussed why Illinois pursued legalization via legislation as opposed to referendum like most previous states. She discussed the legislation and regulation's emphases on equity; equity around criminal justice, equity around who gets into the cannabis business, and equity around repairing the harms done by the War on Drugs. Ms. Hutchinson also discussed how state revenue from legal cannabis taxation has proven to be both pandemic-proof and recession-proof. 

If you missed the live meeting, you are highly encouraged to watch the meeting's recording. The meeting's content is useful for any Midwestern legislator.  

As always, if you have any news that you would like to share with the CJPS committee, such as committee appointments or significant legislative achievements, please reach out to Mitch Arvidson.

Kansas State Capitol in Topeka, Kansas
As you can tell by looking at the Events Calendar on the left side of this newsletter, the CSG Justice Center has not let COVID-19 slow down their work. In addition to offering several upcoming webinars on criminal justice and public safety issues, the Justice Center is working with state governments to address fiscal challenges and how they relate to criminal justice. For example, with funding from the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI), Kansas is launching a bipartisan effort to save taxpayer dollars and use those savings to enact proven criminal justice reform strategies. 

Kansas' Justice Reinvestment Initiative will examine why probation violations account for 41% and parole violations for 17% of state-prison admissions. The initiative will also examine the barriers to successful reentry for those who have completed their sentences. 

With so much focus in the news and policy world lately about police interactions with individuals experiencing behavioral health crises, many jurisdictions have been examining the creation of Crisis Intervention and Co-Responder Teams and Crisis Stabilization Units in their areas. As such, the CSG Justice Center recently published an article providing "4 Tips to Successfully Open a Crisis Stabilization Unit." 

Finally, Dr. Sarah Vinson, a child and adolescent psychiatrist based in Georgia, and Josh Weber, CSG Justice Center's juvenile justice initiatives' lead, recently had a discussion as this most complicated of school year's begins. With many states and school districts using the juvenile justice system to address chronic absences and truancy, the risks of a school-to-prison pipeline have never been higher with the large-scale switches to e-learning. You can watch a recording of their conversation here

Iowa Sees Big Prison Population Dip
As of September 11, 2020, Iowa's prison population was 7,406. This is the lowest it has been in 20 years. However, 7,406 is still well above the state's listed capacity of 6,933. Aside from the state's regular efforts to reduce prison overcrowding, there are several reasons for the historic low, almost all of them related to COVID-19. Iowa has experienced outbreaks in three of its prisons, with 833 offenders and 126 staff members testing positive. Four inmates have died of the disease. 

Around the time of the first outbreak, Iowa began expediting parole for older and sicker inmates. This helped reduce the prison population. However, the greatest factor for this reduction was the result of reduced admissions due to the cessation of transfers from county jails to state prisons and the state courts slowing down. With the lowered population, the state has had more room to quarantine positive offenders and test more inmates, thus helping reduce outbreaks. 

The Quad-City Times has further coverage. 

Illinois Appellate Court Affirms Governor's Transfer Powers
On August 21, Illinois' 4th District Appellate Court reversed orders from Logan County Judge Jonathan Wright that the Illinois Department of Correction's (IDOC) accept transfer of all offenders from county jails. Wright's order came after 89 county sheriffs filed a lawsuit against Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the directof of IDOC. In early spring, Gov. Pritzker's Executive Order 13 announced that all transfers from county jails to state prisons would be halted unless with discretion of the Director of the IDOC. 

Late July's Executive Order 50 replaced Executive Order 13 and stated that transfers would resume with scheduling and intake processes according to the discretion of the Director of IDOC. The sheriffs argued that E.O. 50 was unnecessarily burdensome, including the rule that a transferee must have taken a negative test within three days of transfer. The appellate court disagreed and said the governor has the authority to "control... the movement of persons" during a disaster proclamation. 

Capitol News Illinois has more coverage of the court's decision. And the Chicago Sun-Times has an editorial arguing state prisons must accept inmate transfers. 
Thank you for reading. Watch for the next edition to come out in 
December 2020
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