Urgent Action Needed: Release Hold on SB493 and Ensure Prison Safety

Dear Families, Friends and Colleagues,

We need your help.

Please write and call House Speaker Tate’s office as soon as possible. Ask him to hold a hearing for SB493, which expands the office of the Legislative Corrections Ombudsman. This is an important first step to establish accountability and transparency within the Michigan Department of Corrections. We know there is a critical need for oversight.  

Citizens for Prison Reform is calling upon each of you to take action in the coming days to let our State Leaders know SB493 deserves to be taken up for a hearing by the House Members.

When calling, state “I am calling to ask for the hold on SB493 to end and a hearing be held on this important bill expanding the Corrections Ombudsman’s office. Families and their incarcerated loved ones need greater oversight.”

The phone number and email for the office is below.

If you have an incarcerated loved one, please provide them with the address to send a very brief letter requesting a hearing for SB493. They should not call the offices.

Please share this with your friends and family and on social media. Watch for further actions in the coming weeks. This is just the beginning.

Thank you for taking action, your voices matter!

Lois Pullano,

Executive Director
Citizens for Prison Reform


House Speaker Joe Tate
Michigan House of Representatives
P.O. Box 30014
Lansing, MI 48909-7514

SB 493 Summary: Michigan Corrections Ombudsman Legislation

Bill Purpose: Increase transparency and accountability in the Michigan Department of Corrections (“MDOC”) and the existing Legislative Corrections Ombudsman’s office (“Ombudsman”) by allowing more people to file complaints for independent review, including family members of the incarcerated. It will also implement uniform and easily accessible procedures and data reporting.

Bill Sponsor and Status: Senator Santana is the bill's sponsor. SB493 is not yet law. The bill was voted off the Senate floor in November with zero no votes and taken up in the House Government Operations Committee, who were ready to hold a hearing until mid-february when the Governor's office put it on hold. To become law, it must go through committees, pass through both the Senate and House, and be signed by the Governor.

What the Bill Would Do:

1. Name change: Change the term “ombudsman” to “ombudsperson.”

2. Change who can file complaints: The bill, if passed, would add family members, and prisoner advocates to the list of those able to file complaints and seek review and investigation from the Ombudsman.

3. Data collection and transparency: Requires the Ombudsman to publish general complaint data monthly, and include the following in a public annual report - the total number of complaints that were investigated, denied, resolved, unsubstantiated, or undecided; the number of complaints filed, broken down by subject matter, including but not limited to, racial discrimination and medical treatment issues; significant issues investigated; each recommendation made to the Department and the accompanying response.

4. Uniform procedures: Requires the Ombudsman to create a standardized complaint form within 120 business days of the bill becoming law, and to acknowledge receipt of filed complaints.

5. Accessible information: Requires the Ombudsman to place the standardized complaint form on

its website and the Department to place hard copies in all law libraries and elsewhere throughout the facility.

6. Experts: Allows the Ombudsman to consult or contract with experts to assist with investigations, inspections, etc. Gives experts prison facility access while accompanied by the Ombudsman.

7. Time Limits: Creates a 30-day time limit for the Department to provide a response in defense or mitigation of an adverse opinion the Ombudsman intends to publish. Requires the Department to notify the Ombudsman of any actions it takes on the Ombudsman’s recommendations within 30 days. Requires the Ombudsman to notify the complainant and the Department of its action within 45 business days of the action.

Sponsored by