The House Criminal Justice Committee recently approved a bipartisan plan I am working on to restore arbitration rights for sheriff’s deputies who work as corrections officers in Michigan.
A labor strike involving public safety officials would pose a serious threat to community safety – which is why our state laws provide police officers and firefighters with the ability to quickly resolve their workplace concerns with mandatory arbitration after a grievance is filed.
At the time the law was passed in 1969, the phrase “public police or fire department employee” was assumed by the Legislature to include corrections officers who are employed by sheriff’s departments. In 1980, the Michigan Court of Appeals decided that sheriff’s deputies who work as corrections officers in county jails were not going to be included in the meaning of that phrase. Since that time, sheriff’s deputies who are assigned to work in county jails are not required to be given arbitration to resolve their workplace concerns.
I’ve been trying to get this changed because none of the sheriff’s deputies in Michigan should be reduced to a second-class status due to the division where they are assigned to work.
As sheriff, I was able to witness how our county corrections officers have become a specialized group of individuals dealing with a multitude of criminal activity and technology that needs constant monitoring for the safety of everyone within the walls of our jails. Their jobs are absolutely critical.
I’m deeply concerned about another measure under consideration by the Criminal Justice Committee that would make Oxford High School shooter Ethan Crumbley and other dangerous murderers eligible for parole after serving just 10 years in prison.
I serve on this committee and continue to raise alarms about House Bills 4160-64, which would allow an individual sentenced to life in prison without eligibility for parole to be released on parole after serving 10 years if they were younger than 19 when they committed murder.
When an individual becomes eligible for parole under these bills, the parole board would be required to consider the individual’s age and immaturity at the time of the offense; the individual’s family and home environment at the time of the offense; and the circumstances surrounding the offense, including the influence of peer pressure.
Crumbley, who was 15 years old when he killed four of his fellow students at Oxford High School in 2021, could become eligible for parole when he is just 25 years old under this plan. Several other dangerous murderers who committed their crimes years ago would be eligible for parole immediately if this proposal became law.
I’m opposed to these bills and have been working hard to make sure the other members of the Criminal Justice Committee understand the horrific implications these bills could have on Michigan families, especially crime victims and their loved ones who will be forced to participate in the parole process to make sure their perpetrators remain behind bars.
Next week we celebrate Memorial Day and the lives of the selfless heroes who gave their lives for our freedom. As we kick off the summer season, please keep these safety tips in mind as you plan get-togethers and road trips with your loved ones:
- If you’re grilling, stay near the grill when it’s in use and make sure kids and pets keep their distance. Don’t overload the grill with food. Excessive fat and grease dripping on flames can ignite large flare-ups.
- Use your grill on a level surface at least 10 feet away from your house or garage, and make sure it’s not below overhanging eaves. Keep grills at least three feet from railings, fences, branches, hanging baskets, and backyard furniture.
- If you plan on drinking alcohol, designate a driver who isn’t going to drink.
- Make sure you’re well-rested and alert before you hit the road. Use your seat belts, observe speed limits, and exercise caution in work zones.
If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office by calling (517) 373-3906 or emailing RobertBezotte@house.mi.gov. I am always happy to hear from people in our community.
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