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Point of View

Graham Filler, Representative (R-Dewitt) 

Investment in education vs. Incarceration? Are we investing in the wrong priorities?   

I am part of a conservative caucus that has shown remarkable support for reforms to the criminal justice system. These changes have led to more individual freedoms, more opportunities for Michiganders who have been through the justice system, and a more proportionate, balanced set of laws.

Take a look at the Richard Handlon Correctional Facility and its vocational village, a skilled trades program inside a prison that has statistically led to (much) lower recidivism and individuals being hired right out of prison with important trade skills. That program is a good investment and has been supported by Democrats and
Republicans alike.

In terms of diversity in the workplace, how do we level the playing field and create more access for all people?   

Take a look at the package of expungement bills that passed the House and soon will pass the Senate. When one individual cleans up their record, which leads to an educational or job opportunity, which leads to them being invested in their community, which leads to safer neighborhoods, which leads to this individual paying taxes…You get the point. That’s a powerful commitment from state legislators creating access to jobs and education and just overall bettering Michigan.

Urban policy and poverty. Should we be doing more to support our cities and urban core and combat poverty? 

When I met with Mayor Mike Duggan, he stated the expungement package would impact 100,000 Wayne County citizens and many African-American households. I will never forget that meeting; it inspired me as I worked the legislation through the House.

Take a look at our civil asset forfeiture reforms, House Bills 4001-4002. One of the defining reasons for reforming civil asset forfeiture was to protect the low-income folks. The drug dealers and mules, let’s focus on defeating them, not the little guy who is pressured to cut a deal and watch their car/property be forfeited, keeping them poor. This was another policy steeped in proportionality and equity.

Graham Filler is a Republican representing Michigan’s 93rd District.

Tyrone Carter, Representative (D-Detroit) 

Investment in education vs. Incarceration? Are we investing in the wrong priorities?   

It is often said that if you want to know how many prisons to build, just look at the number of third-graders who can’t read. Education, or lack thereof, is deeply tied to rates of incarceration, especially in the Black community. If our real goal is to lower the populations of our overcrowded prisons, we must invest in education. A quality education gives everyone the opportunity to support themselves and positively contribute to their community. Continuing to build more prison cells is treating the symptom, not the problem. When you look at the numbers of per pupil funding and per prisoner spending there is no question that we are investing in the wrong places.

In terms of diversity in the workplace, how do we level the playing field and create more access for all people?   

Everyone benefits from a diverse and inclusive work environment, where employees can bring their broad perspectives and innovative problem-solving skills. The most important step we can take as individuals is to recognize inequality and have open discussions about these uncomfortable topics. We need to encourage companies to engage with diverse job boards when hiring and offer internships to minority groups that could transfer into full-time employment. Inherent bias training could also help promote a more equitable workplace that is accessible to everyone.

Urban policy and poverty. Should we be doing more to support our cities and urban core and combat poverty?   

In short – absolutely. We are still living with the result of decades of social segregation and redlining, which have concentrated much of our poorest population in urban areas. The quality of schools, levels of pollution, and countless other factors are often much worse in these areas because those in power felt free to further disenfranchise an already marginalized population. This creates additional barriers to those looking to improve their situation, undermining the American Dream and the very principles we hold dear. It’s past time we work to make this right.

Tyrone Carter is a Democrat representing Michigan’s 6th District.