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Activists concerned violent offenders could be released from jail

Patrick Feller

An advocacy group for survivors of domestic violence is raising concerns about the Governor’s executive order allowing for the release of some inmates from county jails.

The Governor’s order allows for the release of elderly or immunocompromised offenders who may be at risk of contracting Covid-19 while in jail so long as they don’t pose a threat to the public.

Sarah Prout Rennie is with the Michigan Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence. She said not enough is being done to ensure domestic abusers are not being let out under the order.

“Our concern is that these orders are meant to do really good things but are not specific or careful enough.”

Attorney Elinor Jordan represents a woman whose partner was recently released from the St. Clair County Jail and, according to Jordan, still poses a threat. She said the problem is that the individual ultimately plead to a lesser charge.

“If you look at that person's record you see it’s a misdemeanor and so I don’t think your antenna would necessarily go up that this is a person highly dangerous to go back out into the community.”

Jordan said it is not unusual in domestic violence cases for an individual to plead to something lower than they were initially charged with.

“And so on that person's record it doesn’t necessarily illustrate the kind of threat that they pose.”

The St. Clair County Jail would neither confirm nor deny that anyone had been let out of their jail under the Governor’s executive order.

A spokesperson for Governor Whitmer did not respond to our request for comment.