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Changing the Narrative: The Case for Commutations in Michigan

Changing the Narrative: The Case for Commutations in Michigan

The AFSC Michigan Criminal Justice Program held focus groups to collect the stories of men and women who served long time in Michigan’s prisons and are now out in the community, doing well and contributing to society.

The goal of this work is to illuminate the positive release and reintegration stories of folks who we kept locked up for far too long and who made it to freedom through commutation, parole, or resentencing. 

While freedom always equals a positive, the stories of these men and women are not without deep and hard struggle and suffering. Our hope is to lift up the voices of men and women once held captive by the state for long periods of time who are now living, working, and building lives out here in the community. We see this work as foundational to shifting the narrative here in Michigan from one rooted in punishment and retribution to narratives that influence the creation of policies rooted in the potential for healing, redemption, and freedom. 

The AFSC Michigan Criminal Justice Program along with MI-CURE, and the Michigan Collaborative to End Mass Incarceration (MI-CEMI) are committed in the belief that life and long-indeterminate sentences must be addressed in order to effectively reduce the prison population in Michigan. We have over 5,000 people serving life sentences and more than 6,000 people serving long indeterminate sentences. We hope that the current governor, future governors, and the parole board use their authority to grant more commutations and paroles to those serving the longest sentences who are ready to come home. 

The stories told in this video are just a small sample of the many stories of formerly incarcerated people who have come home after doing long time and are now vital members in their communities. 

We will be launching a film yourself campaign and uploading more videos soon! If you or someone you know is interested in sharing a story, please contact to learn more about adding your story to the movement, or joining the Good Neighbor Project to become a catalyst for change for someone in prison!

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