Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced a proposal on Wednesday that would provide jobs and wraparound services to people accused of low-level, nonviolent crimes.
The $5.5 million program, called Jobs Court, would provide up to 450 eligible offenders in Wayne, Genesee, and Marquette Counties with "good-paying jobs" with benefits and training to advance their careers.
After a year, prosecutors would then have the option to dismiss charges against Jobs Court participants who successfully complete the program. The program would be part of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's proposed $75 million MI Safe Communities Framework
, first announced in August.
"Jobs Court is an innovative program that checks all of the boxes: it’s smart on crime, reduces the burden on our criminal justice system, puts offenders on a permanent path to success, helps our local businesses, and makes our communities safer," Nessel said in a statement. "I am grateful to Governor Whitmer for including my proposal as part of her MI Safe Communities framework and I look forward to working with the Legislature and our local law enforcement partners on this groundbreaking new initiative."
In Wayne County, 200 offenders would be eligible for the program.
"Jobs can be the answer to many of society’s ills," Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said in a statement. "Jobs create opportunity. Jobs create hope. Jobs create growth. Jobs create stability. A common dominator to success, even in the criminal justice system is a good job. For certain lower-level crimes, instead of jail or prison, you get a job."
In a statement, Whitmer said the program would help clear the backlog of cases in the state's court system and help fill jobs across the state. Many businesses, especially in the hospitality industry, have said they have had difficulty filling empty jobs amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I'm thankful for the hard work of Attorney General Nessel in putting this proposal together and look forward to working with the legislature to get it done," Whitmer said.
Jobs Court would also provide offenders with social services like mental health care, transportation, and access to a social worker.
The creation of the program depends on legislative action to become a reality.
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