As the COVID-19 pandemic swept through Michigan, it presented a dire threat to the tens of thousands of people incarcerated in Michigan’s overcrowded and unhygienic jails and prisons, many of whom are medically vulnerable.  The ACLU of Michigan, along with partners around the state, rapidly mobilized to urge the governor to issue executive orders to facilitate speedy and safe reduction of population in our jails and prisons. 

In March 2020 Governor Whitmer issued an executive order, reflecting a number of specific recommendations made by the ACLU and our partners, and instructing local sheriffs and courts to take aggressive measures to reduce the population levels in Michigan’s county jails.  Unfortunately, the governor did not issue a similar order to facilitate the safe release of medically vulnerable inmates from Michigan’s prisons, which have experienced some of the highest infection and death rates in the country. 

(ACLU Attorneys Phil Mayor and Dan Korobkin; Margo Schlanger of U-M Law School and Jonathan Sacks of the State Appellate Defender Office.)