State Rep. Pamela Hornberger this week introduced a comprehensive plan addressing the overcrowding of Michigan jails.
Hornberger, of Chesterfield Township, said approximately 41 percent of the people housed in Michigan’s county jails are there because they cannot post bail.
“The system is broken,” Hornberger said. “Too many people accused of minor crimes are stuck in jail because they can’t afford their bail, putting them at risk for losing their jobs, housing and custody of their children. They’re forced to serve a punishment before they are even convicted of a crime.”
The solution Hornberger introduced alongside a bipartisan group of her House colleagues would create a basic financial information form that defendants would complete and Michigan judges would use to set a more appropriate cash bond amount. Specifically, Hornberger’s bill would establish a penalty for anyone who knowingly lies or misrepresents their status on the financial disclosure form.
Other parts of the nine-bill package:
- Make a personal recognizance bond the presumed condition of pretrial release for defendants accused of non-violent crimes.
- Require Michigan courts to make bail findings on the record.
- Require district courts to submit data on bail practices to the State Court Administrative Office.
As is current practice, Hornberger said defendants considered dangerous to the community, as well as anyone deemed unlikely to attend court hearings, would still receive high bail bond or be jailed without the possibility of pretrial release.
The legislation, House Bills 6455-63, was referred to the House Judiciary Committee for consideration.