Ingham County Prosecutor plans to limit use of additional gun possession charge
Ingham County Prosecutor Carol Siemon says her office will limit how often it uses a certain gun possession charge.
Under Michigan law, prosecutors can tack on the charge if someone is found with a gun while committing a felony. It carries a mandatory minimum sentence of two years.
But Siemon said the 1976 law hasn’t stopped people from carrying guns.
“Unfortunately, instead, what it's led to is the incredible level of racial disproportionality in people incarcerated for it with absolutely no increase in public safety," she said.
A recent report found that Black people make up more than 80% of people incarcerated in Michigan on felony firearm charges. Siemon says prosecutors often add the charge even when the gun wasn’t used in the underlying crime for which a suspect was arrested.
She argues the charge furthers racial disparities in incarceration.
Black people make up just over 10% of Ingham County’s population. But the prosecutor’s office says they accounted for 67% of people charged with felony firearm possession in the county last year.
Speaking at a press conference Wednesday, Sheriff Scott Wriggelsworth called the policy "garbage," saying it will lead to increased gun violence.
“There are two very important questions that are yet to be answered. One, who will be the first victim, and two, how many are there going to be?”
He added Siemon’s focus is again on the offender rather than the victim.
“The prosecutor’s policy basically says to those victims ‘too bad, so what, or who cares.’ Well we care. We care.”
Siemon issued a statement Wednesday evening in response to the criticism over the policy. She described the statements made by law enforcement as “emotional and inaccurate.”