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Full Text:

April 6, 2020

RE: PLEASE ACT NOW! Letter regarding executive order on prisons from advocacy

organizations: AFSC-MI, Citizens for Prison Reform, Detroit Justice Center, Family Advisory

Board, Humanity for Prisoners, MI-CURE, Michigan Liberation, Michigan Prisoner

Rehabilitation Credit Act, Michigan Protection and Advocacy Service, Inc., National

Association of Social Workers-Michigan, Nation Outside

Dear Governor Whitmer and Director Washington,

We understand you all are overwhelmed with a historical pandemic and doing your best to

negotiate this turbulent time. We also understand you are inundated with

recommendations from various stakeholders and powerholders. We represent

organizations directly connected to people in prison in Michigan. Many of us have been

incarcerated in Michigan’s prisons or love people living in Michigan’s prisons. We want our

voices to be heard and we would like to consult with as you make decisions regarding the

treatment of people in the prison system.

There is no doubt in our minds that the best way to manage the Covid-19 challenge in

Michigan’s prison system is to release as many people as possible as quickly as

possible. We believe that can be done without compromising public safety, and in the best

interest of public health, but it will require the system to consider different rules.

We have also listed out recommendations for addressing conditions for those people who

are left behind.

The following recommendations apply to individuals who score high or average

probability on the Parole Guideline Score Sheet and have a home placement

available to them:

• Release individuals who are past their ERD. This would include individuals who

have not been able to complete recommended programming. Waive all

requirements for programming and psychological evaluations.

• Release individuals who are serving time for a technical rule violation.

• Suspend truth in sentencing. Michigan is an outlier in requiring individuals to serve

the entire minimum sentence before being considered for parole. Consider

releasing individuals who have served half the minimum sentence.

• Restore good time & disciplinary credits and earned credits to individuals who have

demonstrated years of good behavior.

• Apply good time & disciplinary credits and earned credits to those serving habitual


• Release individuals who are infirm, elderly, and medically frail.

• Release people who are receiving care for cancer and other chronic conditions that

require frequent off-site care to their loved ones, immediately.

• Create substantive plans for continuing medical care post-incarceration for any

person who is currently being treated for a serious medical condition and is

released to address COVID 19 concerns.

• Initiate electronic public hearings for all people who are awaiting them and/or who

were about to be scheduled for them.

• Treat individuals who are serving long indeterminate sentences as if they were

parolable lifers and consider them for parole on the same schedule as lifers.

• Begin a robust effort to process and expedite commutations.

• Increase the size of the parole board to facilitate faster processing.

• Use electronic public hearings to expedite commutations.

• Re-entry monies must be targeted for people released from prison. This includes

providing cash assistance relief for people coming home by using both stimulus

money and pooling emergency grants from philanthropic institutions. This also

includes providing access to providers who can offer recovery assistance for people

who use drugs and medication assisted treatment and overdose support

The following are recommendations for those left behind in the prison setting during

the pandemic and, also, for after the pandemic:

• Protect people who are ill with COVID-19 and/or exposed.

o Make sure no one is alone while they are living with COVID-19, or while they

are under quarantine for close contact observation.

o Provide care in the form of frequent access to water, warming foods, pain

relievers, and fever reducers.

o Provide out of cell time for all people with COVID-19 and people under

quarantine for close contact and/or full units under quarantine—fresh air is


o Provide minimal property like sweatshirts, slippers, tablets, books, writing

materials, etc.

o Keep families informed of what is going on with isolated people.

o Continue to provide masks, soap, and disinfectants that combat the virus.

• Provide free phone calls for people in prison and their communities. The state

should cover the costs associated with the GTL contract. The state should

immediately end the special equipment fund and bring calls down to 3.4 cents per

minute. The state should then cover this GTL rate.

• Stop up charging people for store items. Eliminate the 38% surcharge that goes to

the state for store items.

• Provide indigent people in prison with money to purchase store items.

• Provide care for people who are not COVID positive who have chronic health


• Create separate field medical centers in each prison to care for people who need

ongoing care and are not COVID positive.

• Suspend shake downs and pat downs as these contribute to increased cross


• Suspend the issuing of all misconducts unless violent.

For questions or concerns, please contact Natalie Holbrook or

734.330.0555 We look forward to your response and to your prompt action on the



American Friends Service Committee’s Michigan Criminal Justice Program

Citizens for Prison Reform

Detroit Justice Center

Family Advisory Board

Humanity for Prisoners


Michigan Liberation

Michigan Prisoner Rehabilitation Credit Act

Michigan Protection and Advocacy Service, Inc.

National Association of Social Workers-Michigan

Nation Outside