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Michigan Radio Receives Grant to Expand Criminal Justice Reporting

Michigan Radio has received a grant from the Public Welfare Foundation to expand the station’s criminal justice reporting. This will allow the station to do more reporting surrounding youth and adult criminal justice issues in Michigan.

The public often does not have insight into how the criminal justice system operates or how public dollars are spent on law enforcement, courts, prisons, and other services. Michigan Radio will assign a full-time reporter to produce ongoing news coverage that will help contribute to the public dialogue on this important issue across the state. 

The coverage will look at criminal justice from all sides, with a particular focus on how individuals and communities are impacted by the criminal justice system and how various facets of the system work well or don’t. We plan to look at areas including surveillance, sentencing, cash bail, plea deals and more.

"This new beat will allow Michigan Radio to better serve communities that are highly policed, heavily surveilled, and have the most interaction with criminal courts, prisons, and the parole system. It will also allow us the time and space to help people recognize the systemic and historical contexts that led us here," noted Sarah Hulett, director of enterprise and longform journalism at Michigan Radio. "We want people to understand how these policies and systems work and don’t work, and for whom." 

In addition to the on-air reports, Michigan Radio will host town hall meetings and other events to help engage the public in discussions on criminal justice issues in their community and crime related issues that need more attention.

"Public Welfare Foundation is honored to support Michigan Radio in its mission to uncover facts, share stories and create connections,” said Esther Franco-Payne, Vice President of Programs. “We believe that Michigan Radio’s coverage of local criminal justice issues will both help educate listeners and increase critical conversations about how we can advance justice that’s actually just."

Michigan Radio expects the first of these reports to begin airing Fall 2021.

For over seventy years, Public Welfare Foundation has supported efforts to advance justice and opportunity for people in need. Today, the Foundation’s efforts focus on catalyzing a transformative approach to justice that is community-led, restorative, and racially just through investments in criminal justice and youth justice reforms in targeted jurisdictions, including Michigan. These efforts honor the Foundation’s core values of racial equality, economic well-being, and fundamental fairness for all.

Suzanne Belanger is a Marketing Associate at Michigan Radio, coordinating community and media partnerships, public relations, special events, and more. She started working in radio when she was 14 years old at her hometown station in Delphos, Ohio. Throughout her radio career, she’s worked at a number of stations in Ohio, Florida and Michigan.