Criminal justice reform has bipartisan support

Editor,

Just over a month ago, I joined several of my colleagues for a press conference in Kalamazoo to unveil a bipartisan package of bills aimed at reforming our broken criminal justice system and making Michigan a national leader in expungement policy.

Today, the Judiciary Committee is scheduled to move these bills out of committee and onto the House Floor. The feedback provided during public testimony has been incredible.

The bills have gained the support of approximately fifty co-sponsors each and have earned the support of more than thirty different organizations across our state, including the Grand Rapids and Detroit Chambers of Commerce as well as the Urban Core Mayors.

Giving people who have paid their debts to society an opportunity for a clean slate isn’t only the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do. Research from the University of Michigan shows that low-level offenders who have remained crime-free are no more likely to commit a crime than anyone else. A steady, good-paying job is the best way to reduce recidivism and ensure that a person leads a crime-free and productive life.

In an era of hyper-partisanship, it is refreshing to see that here in Michigan, Republicans and Democrats are coming together to advance a common-sense policy that will benefit hundreds of thousands of our fellow Michiganders.

I’m thankful for all of the work that Chairman Filler, the Judiciary Committee, and my fellow bill sponsors have put into crafting this necessary legislation.

Right here in Michigan, we’re showing that we can work together to improve the lives of our citizens and make our state an even better place to live, work and raise a family.

Pauline Wendzel

State Representative