Shunning those with criminal convictions hurts us all | Opinion by Loren Khogali and Tony Gant

Shortly after making comments disparaging Justice Kyra Harris Bolden’s decision to hire a returning citizen as a law clerk, a statement was released by Justice Bernstein “apologizing to both Justice Bolden and the returning citizen who by then had resigned from the position of clerk. Just days after the first black woman was sworn into the Michigan Supreme Court – one of Justice Bolden’s first acts on the bench was hiring a law clerk who spent much of his young adult years behind bars. Mr. Martell was paroled in 2008 for the crimes he committed at 19 years old. He has since become an advocate for improving prison conditions working for the State Appellate Defender Office (SADO) as a mitigation specialist. Justice Bernstein criticized & condemned Justice Bolden for the hire in an interview with the Detroit News saying he “doesn’t share values with the newly appointed Justice.”

Prior to the election Justice Bernstein campaigned with Justice Bolden — and participated in candidate forums stating the he ‘believes in rehabilitation & second chances’. Are second chances something to throw around during elections? Tony Grant, director of policy & program operations of Nation Outside & a founding leader at @votingaccessforall, advocates for the rights of formerly incarcerated persons in Michigan. He penned a powerful Op-Ed piece with @Lauren Khogali, the Executive Director of the ACLU of Michigan. Voting Access For All Coalition believes in redemption. We support second look legislation and giving second chances. “Recent events at the Michigan Supreme Court are a reminder of how important it is to have conversations that change hearts and minds.” The leadership at VAAC co-signs this statement and is extremely troubled in knowing the reason behind Pete Martel’s resignation.  Please follow the link below to read the op-ed, and a statement released by VAAC leadership in response.


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