Head shot of Heather Garretson


Smart Justice Campaign Coordinator



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As a federal prosecutor, Heather Garretson witnessed flaws in the criminal justice system. From her experience as a prosecutor and criminal defense attorney, she knows that justice is often not just. Since she joined the ACLU of Michigan staff in 2017, she has been instrumental to the Smart Justice campaign, which aims to reduce incarceration throughout the state and eliminate racial disparities in the criminal justice system.

The campaign’s goals are lofty goals indeed, but Heather is uniquely qualified to take on these challenges. In addition to her experiences in the court room, she’s also been a law school professor. Her wealth of experience gives Heather the ability to knowledgeably consider the issue of crime and punishment from multiple perspectives, but the bottom line for her is reflected in a quote from the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Her passion for fighting injustice is matched only by her zest for life, and sense of humor. If you ask Heather what she is really good at, here’s what she’ll tell you: eating nachos, ordering sushi and shoveling snow! She is also very good at burning things in the kitchen, according to her husband, who does all the cooking. Heather works at our Grand Rapids office, and sometimes must drive to Detroit, which she finds dreadful (the drive, not the city).  “I hate to spend time commuting, so if I could have any power it would be that of Dorothy – I’d click my heels together and show up where I wanted to be.”


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