Safe and Just Michigan - September 2022

Campaign Season Overtakes Legislative Schedule

In recent weeks, we have gotten some bad news about the fall legislative session schedule. Instead of the five weeks of session originally planned, the House of Representatives will have just two voting days in September and October, and the Senate is likely to follow suit. While no official reason has been given, the word around Lansing is that the change was made by House Republicans so they can focus on their campaigns between now and the November 8 election, in which they will be defending slim majorities in both chambers using maps that were recently redrawn by a non-partisan commission.

With the Senate likely to also slash its workload for the Fall, our window of opportunity to pass major pieces of legislation this session, which ends at the end of this year, has likely closed. Pending legislation includes bills to end juvenile life without parole sentencing and to overhaul Michigan’s cash bail system. Simply put, it appears there just isn't enough time left on the legislative calendar to do the committee hearings, amendments, floor votes, and the like needed to send bills to the governor for signature.

We are continuing to pursue all avenues we can to move our priorities forward this session, but we thought it was important to explain the situation and set expectations for the fall. That said, the lame duck session that occurs after the Thanksgiving break and before the end of the session is highly unpredictable, and there’s no certainty of what might happen then.

In any case, the lack of movement this year does not spell doom for any of our legislative efforts. If we are unable to pass our priorities this year, we expect to try again next session.

Mark Your Calendars for Our Annual Meeting and Dinner Events

This year, Safe & Just Michigan will handle our annual membership meeting and our annual dinner differently than we have in past years. Historically, we have combined both events into one evening. This year, however, we are holding our membership meeting online and holding our celebratory dinner at a different date. We hope this will allow for more networking and mingling at the in-person dinner.

Our annual membership meeting will be held on Thursday, Oct. 20, from 6:30-7:30 p.m. and will be online only. Topics to be covered will include organizational updates, a forecast for 2023, and board elections. Participation is free, and a link will be provided after registering at

The annual dinner will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 1 from 5-9 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza Lansing West hotel at 925 S. Creyts Road in Lansing. The event will feature a presentation from Path2Redemption CEO and “The Five Stages of Growth” author Lester Young, who has also assisted Safe & Just Michigan with storyteller training. He will speak about how “our past does not define us, but only provides a blueprint to amplify our future.” New this year, attendance is free — however, pre-registration will be required because attendance will be limited to 150 people. To register, please go to

Great Gratitude to SADO for Help on JLWOP Project

Safe & Just Michigan wants to express its gratitude to SADO and its staff members for their generosity in sharing their office space and making us feel at home for two days in July as we filmed people who were formerly incarcerated on a juvenile life without parole (JLWOP) sentence but have since come home. The project is part of our effort to end JLWOP sentencing in Michigan — one of a minority of states still using the sentence. As of now, 32 states and Washington, D.C., have either banned JLWOP sentencing outright or have effectively stopped using it and have no one currently incarcerated on such a sentence.

We will combine our video interviews with photography, written stories, facts and statistics, and suggestions on how to get involved in the legislative effort to end JLWOP sentencing on a website that will be unveiled later this year. The project not only seeks to find support for the legislation, but also to inform the public that people who were sentenced to JLWOP but have since come home do not pose a threat to public safety. The participants in our project have become entrepreneurs, college graduates, social workers, parents, faith leaders, political organizers, and more since coming home. Of the more than 160 people once sentenced to JLWOP who have returned home in Michigan, just one is currently facing a return to prison.

Our organization is also grateful to the 14 men and women who bravely spoke about their experiences, sharing personal and often very painful experiences from their youth. They also talked about how they found the strength and inspiration to endure decades in prison without an endpoint in sight. Many revealed that they never believed that they would spend their lives in prison, no matter what their sentences stated.

We look forward to sharing this project with you once it is completed and will share the website with you as soon as we can.

Visit our website at If you would like to join Safe & Just Michigan’s efforts, please contact us at or sign up for our electronic communications at