Oakland Co. Prosecutor marks first 100 days in office. announces policy changes

Posted at 11:45 AM, Apr 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-12 11:45:01-04

(WXYZ) — Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald marked her first 100 days in office and announced new policies.

“In the 100 days since I was sworn in, I have re-oriented my office’s priorities to focus on juvenile justice, reducing racial disparities, and alternatives to incarceration for low-level, non-violent crimes," McDonald said in a press release. "I am committed to implementing smarter solutions to achieve safer, more just communities for everyone in Oakland County.”

In her first 100 days in office, McDonald directed assistant prosecutors to consider underlying factors of criminality, including mental health, addiction, abuse, and trauma, and to use discretion in charging decisions and plea negotiations.

She ended the automatic use of habitual offender notices, ended the practice of default charge-stacking, and instructed assistant prosecutors to stop automatically charging juveniles as adults.

Additionally, she issued resentencing notices for nearly two-dozen juvenile lifers in Oakland County, restoring their Constitutional right to be considered for parole.

She transformed Oakland County’s narcotics unit into a trafficking unit, shifting her office’s focus from the use and possession of drugs to the trafficking of people and drugs.

She also created a first-ever hate crimes unit, allocating crucial resources for the specific purpose of charging and prosecuting hate crimes and ethnic intimidation.

Additionally, she directed assistant prosecutors not to request cash bond or oppose pretrial release in cases involving low-level, non-violent crimes.

McDonald also made the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office an active participant in over a dozen diversion programs and treatment courts, including mental health courts, addiction courts, veterans’ courts, and a first-offender diversion program.

She also addressed racial disparities and said she made racial equity a central focus of her office. McDonald launched an internal Equity Team, established the first-ever Racial Justice Community Advisory Council, and formed a research partnership with the University of Michigan to assess the office’s progress in confronting racial disparities in Oakland County.

McDonald formed a team dedicated to establishing Oakland County’s first-ever Conviction Integrity Unit, which will ensure claims of wrongful conviction are examined fairly and impartially.

The team has drafted a proposal to be presented next month to the Oakland County Board of Commissioners.