\ In-Depth: MCO leads in corrections

In-Depth: MCO leads in corrections

By Jeremy Tripp
MCO Director, Government & Political Affairs

In 2016, MCO decided enough was enough and began an intensive campaign to change the negative public image of corrections and rewrite the harsh narrative portrayed in television and movies.

Fast forward two years and you will find MCO is a state and national leader on criminal justice reform, a leader in officer dignity, and a vocal champion on the values and merits of corrections work.

What caused MCO to make this shift? A realization that if we wanted change, we would have to create it for ourselves, because no one was going to do it for us!

Guided by this belief, member programs were developed across the state to allow officers opportunities to get involved and begin moving their message in targeted forums.

“We found a new way of discussing our issues and developed a member driven platform that allowed everyone to get involved” said Jeremy Tripp, MCO Director of Government and Political Affairs.

That new approach involved member to member communications, a state wide MOVE FORWARD campaign and a decision to incorporate member values into every discussion surrounding politics.

As a result of our collective efforts, MCO has seen a flurry of movement on issues important to members, including several bills introduced to directly address concerns in corrections.

“This really is an effort that was pushed by our membership and serves as a tremendous reminder of what can be accomplished when we are all moving in the same direction” said Andy Potter, MCO Vice President and Chief of Staff. “Led by our members, MCO is firmly in the driver’s seat and will continue to push for what is right.”

In addition to the strides made in state, MCO has also found success on a national level moving a message of values, dignity and innovation.

Known as ONE VOICE, the MCO led campaign brings together corrections officers, academics and other policy makers from across the United States to discuss practical reforms needed in corrections. By bringing officers and corrections staff into the conversation and listening to their concerns, we have elevated our union as a resource and positioned our organization as a vehicle to raise the profession.

To learn more about current legislation, please see below for descriptions and analysis provided by the House and Senate fiscal agencies.


Current Legislation:

Drone Package : House Bills 5494, 5496, and 5497 would amend the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Act (Public Act 436 of 2016) to specify that the operator of an unmanned aircraft system is criminally liable for any activity using the system for which he or she would be criminally liable for performing directly, to designate duties of the Michigan Aeronautics Commission, and to expand the prohibition on knowingly and intentionally operating an unmanned aircraft system that interferes with the official duties of certain public employees. House Bill 5495 would amend the Michigan Penal Code to include penalties for knowingly operating an unmanned aircraft system that interferes with the operations of certain facilities, while House Bill 5498 would codify those penalties in the Code of Criminal Procedure.

Status: Passed House of Representatives on 3/22/2018, Awaiting Committee Assignment in Michigan Senate.

Targeting Corrections Staff : House Bills 4585 (H-1) and 4590 (H-1) would amend the Michigan Penal Code to prescribe a felony penalty of up to two years’ imprisonment for a person who committed a violent felony in which the victim was targeted because he or she was, or was perceived to be, a firefighter or emergency medical service (EMS) personnel, or a law enforcement or corrections officer, respectively. The proposed penalty would have to be served consecutively to any term of imprisonment imposed for the underlying felony. House Bill 4591 (H-2) would amend the sentencing guidelines in the Code of Criminal Procedure to include the felonies proposed by House Bills 4585 (H-1) and 4590 (H-1) as Class G offenses against a person, with statutory maximums of two years.

Status: Passed House of Representatives on 1/31/2018, Awaiting Vote of the Full Senate.

Officer Dignity Bill:  House Bill 4119 (H-2) would add Section 411x to the Michigan Penal Code to provide that a detainee or prisoner in a holding cell, holding center, lockup, jail, or State correctional facility who knowingly did either of the following would be guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for up to four years or a maximum fine of $2,000, or both: 1) Threw or attempted to throw any bodily material, that came into contact with any employee or volunteer performing his or her duties in that holding cell, holding center, lockup, jail, or State correctional facility. 2) Caused or attempted to cause any employee or volunteer performing his or her duties in that holding cell, holding center, lockup, jail, or State correctional facility to come into contact with any bodily material. The bill would define “bodily material” as blood, urine, saliva, semen, or feces.

House Bill 4118 (H-1) would amend the Code of Criminal Procedure to include the proposed felony in the sentencing guidelines as a Class F offense against a person with a statutory maximum of four years’ imprisonment.

Status: Passed House of Representatives on 1/31/2018, Awaiting Vote of the Full Senate.


Potential Budget Battles:

Food Service: After years of concern over staffing and safety issues, the Governors proposed budget for 2019 puts an end to privatized food service and returns the responsibility to state employees. MCO was the most vocal critic in the media and in meetings with legislators on this topic because of the serious safety and security issues that arise from short staffing, constant stop orders and lowered quality and quantity of food.

Status: Governor and MDOC recommend return to state run food service but final approval must come from both the House and Senate before we take this issue off the table.


Passed Legislation

HB 4159, Gun Bill: House Bill 4159 would allow the following individuals who had a license to carry a concealed pistol to carry that pistol in a “no-carry” zone: 1) Retired corrections officer of a county sheriff’s department 2) Active or retired corrections officer, active or retired absconder recovery unit member, or a retired parole or probation officer of the Department of Corrections.

Status: Approved by the Governor on 11/30/2015 and assigned PA # 206’15’

SB 218, Survivor Health Benefits: would provide survivor health benefits to surviving spouses and dependents of certain public safety officers killed in the line of duty.

Status: Approved by the Governor on 9/27/2016 and assigned PA # 0284’16’

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