Oakland County Voters Embrace ACLU’s Smart Justice Values Platform in Prosecutor Race

Affiliate: ACLU of Michigan
August 5, 2020 11:15 am

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OAKLAND COUNTY, Mich. – Oakland County voters sent a clear message to prosecuting attorney nominees on Election Day by embracing the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan’s (ACLU) Smart Justice platform, which includes holding police accountable, ending racism in the criminal legal system, and ending mass incarceration. Months before the August 4th primary, the ACLU of Michigan launched an unprecedented campaign, “The Power of Prosecutors,” to educate voters around the state about how county prosecutor candidates in their communities responded to questions on advancing criminal legal reforms.

Along with a survey that was sent to all 114 candidates, asking them to pledge their support for a set of criminal legal reforms, the ACLU specifically invested in Oakland County educating voters with television ads that reached more than 98 percent of voters, digital ads that had more than 2 million impressions, direct mail to 80,000 households, and the help of volunteers who made almost 40,000 calls and sent more than 400,000 texts to voters about the candidates.

If elected in the general election on November 3, the Oakland County candidates were asked to do the following:

  • Support marijuana expungement applications for amounts that are now legal, and support statewide legislation that creates automatic and retroactive expungement of marijuana charges;
  • Decline to seek life without the possibility of parole, including for any person under 18 at the time of the offense;
  • Invest in alternatives to incarceration for people with mental illness, substance use disorder, indigent defendants, and veterans;
  • Appoint an independent investigator in all cases of police-involved shootings and publicly share the investigation findings when deciding whether to charge the officer with a crime; and
  • Acknowledge that prosecutorial practices have been responsible for racial disparities in the criminal legal system and establish practices and policy that will eliminate racial disparities.

The results indicate that Oakland County voters overwhelmingly support holding the police accountable and stopping racism in the criminal legal system. The ACLU will continue to elevate these issues in the general election and hold newly nominated Democratic candidate Karen McDonald accountable for her commitments.

Dave Noble, executive director, ACLU of Michigan has this reaction:

“Across the nation, more communities are demanding reforms to our deeply flawed criminal legal system that fuels mass incarceration and racial disparities. Oakland County voters are part of this national movement as they clearly want to end the nightmare of racism and over incarceration and seek to challenge the status quo in the November general election. We will continue to hold whoever is elected prosecutor accountable to Smart Justice values embraced by Oakland County voters.”

“The Power of Prosecutors” campaign is part of the ACLU’s nationwide, multi-year Smart Justice mission to end mass incarceration and racism in the criminal legal system. The ACLU of Michigan is committed to educating voters statewide about the county prosecutor candidates in their communities through November 3.

The ACLU of Michigan is a non-partisan organization that does not support nor endorse candidates.

Read how the candidates responded to the ACLU criminal legal reform questionnaire at smartjusticemi.org.

Our full press release and documents can be found here:

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