Safe and Justice Michigan - June, 2022

Listen To Our ‘From The Numbers’ Storytellers
Share Their Stories of Redemption

Safe & Just Michigan, in partnership with Muskegon-based Fresh Coast Alliance, is excited to launch ‘From the Numbers,’ a new storytelling-based project that will inform the public about the realities faced by formerly incarcerated people as they seek to re-enter their communities and turn their lives around. We were also assisted by Lester Young of Path2Redemption, who helped teach storytelling. You can view the project at

The project highlights nine Michiganders who were incarcerated anywhere from two to 25 years or more. Some were sentenced to drug crimes, others to violent offenses including murder. Yet each tells a story about how they came to terms with the factors in their life that led them to prison, and how they chose to make changes to transform themselves. You’ll get to know people like Lorenzo Garrett, who received a gubernatorial commutation in 2020. You’ll get to know Lawanda Hollister, who said her search for love and acceptance led her to take a life in a moment of blind desperation — and how she learned how to find that love and acceptance within herself. 

Each of the nine participants is featured in both a video testimony and a blog post. Each person’s video is also summarized in a short version that is perfect for sharing on Twitter as well. In addition, there are many charts and graphics that help explain the scope of Michigan’s overreliance on incarceration and talking points. A downloadable social media tool kit also contains a FAQ, sample tweets and Facebook posts, resource links, and sample letters to the editor.

We encourage you to peruse these stories and to get to know some of the people From the Numbers. Then, please share it with your friends, associates, and everyone interested in redemption, second chances, and criminal justice reform. These are stories that deserve to be heard.

Action on Juvenile Lifer Bills
Delayed But Still Anticipated

Criminal justice reform advocates had hoped for a hearing on a set of bills that would end the practice of juvenile life without parole sentencing before a Senate committee the week of May 23. However, it now appears that hearing will be delayed — likely because the Legislature is working to complete some budget issues.

The bills in question, Senate Bills 848-851, would eliminate the option of sentencing a juvenile to life in prison without parole in Michigan. Thirty-one states either have no juvenile life without parole sentencing, or currently have no one serving such a sentence, but Michigan isn’t among them. While U.S. Supreme Court rulings over the past decade have ended the possibility of mandatory juvenile life without parole sentencing, it still allows for it on a case-by-case basis.

We had heard that a hearing before the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee was likely in May, but that now seems unlikely. It appears the Legislature is currently working to tie up some budget items, and there are several members on the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee who are also members on the Senate Appropriations Committee who need to devote their time to that work.

At this time, we have not heard of any objections to the juvenile life without parole bills that would keep them from moving forward. At the same time, we also understand that 2022 is an election year, and it is important to keep these bills on lawmakers’ to-do list before they take a break to campaign this summer. We are hopeful a hearing will be scheduled soon, and we’ll keep you informed once it is.

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