One size almost never fits all

We read with great interest reporter Julie Riddle’s dispatch on local law enforcement officials’ response to recently released recommendations from the Michigan Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration.

The task force issued 18 recommendations to judges, prosecutors, and police that task force members say would help reduce the often overcrowded population in county jails. The gist of their recommendations: Stop taking away driver’s licenses. Write more tickets. Make fewer arrests. Give shorter jail sentences.

Most of the four county jails in Northeast Michigan often are bursting at the seams, and area law enforcement officials agreed that some of the task force’s ideas could help manage that population.

However, officials also urged caution about Lansing tying local governments’ hands with mandated reforms that might not serve our communities well.

Local police officers, prosecutors, and judges know their communities and “have a pretty good idea who is dangerous and who’s not,” Alcona County Prosecutor Tom Weichel told Riddle.

We agree.

Time and time again, we have seen examples of policies handed down from Lansing that have unintended consequences when those policies are implemented where the new rules don’t precisely fit the circumstances.

The task force’s recommendations are now in the hands of the Legislature.

We hope lawmakers give them great consideration. Many of the recommendations are noble and would go a long way toward not only reducing the burden on county jails but also improving fairness in our criminal justice system.

But we hope lawmakers also recognize that one size almost never fits all and provide local communities at least some flexibility to make sure they can do what’s best for their residents and taxpayers.



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