Rep. VanSingel: Bail reforms needed to address jail overcrowding

Categories: News

State Rep. Scott VanSingel this week introduced a comprehensive plan addressing the overcrowding of Michigan jails.

VanSingel, of Grant, said approximately 41 percent of the people housed in Michigan’s county jails are there because they cannot post bail.

“I take public safety and criminal justice very seriously,” VanSingel said. “But people who are accused of minor crimes who do not pose a threat to the public should not risk losing their housing, jobs and even children because they can’t afford their bail.”

The solution VanSingel introduced alongside a bipartisan group of his 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.

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.
  • Establish a penalty for anyone who knowingly lies or misrepresents their status on the financial disclosure form.

As is current practice, VanSingel 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.