Laws & Legislation

Restorative Justice & Returning Citizens

The American Friends Service Committee staff leads a panel discussion on restorative justice and mass incarceration which will include a videoed vignette of successful outcomes of advocacy & prison reform.

AFSC's Michigan Criminal Justice Program advocates for over 1,500 Michigan prisoners and their families each year, building an advocacy network throughout the state. The program encourages dialogue among prisoners and the general public, and works for humane reform of the criminal justice system, and for the rights of prisoners.

Proving Innocence: Freeing the Wrongfully Convicted

The success of podcasts like Serial and documentaries like Making of a Murderer has drawn attention to the issue of wrongful convictions, and to flaws in the criminal justice system that allow these problems to persist.

In 2007, Bill Proctor, a journalist and reporter with WXYZ-TV Channel 7 in Detroit, founded the Proving Innocence Organization to investigate wrongful conviction claims and educate the public about the need for reforms. Bill will talk about the cases that inspired him to take action, and bring along guest speakers who have experienced wrongful conviction and exoneration to share their perspectives.

Proctor was an award-winning journalist, reporter, producer, and anchorperson whose career of nearly forty years spanned electronic media, radio, television, and documentaries. He concluded his career as senior staff reporter for WXYZ-TV in Southfield, MI. In May 2013, Bill retired and started Bill Proctor and Associates, a communications consulting firm.

In the mid-1990s, he produced a series of specials on the slaying of community-college student, Scott Macklem. Through his investigations, Bill became convinced that Frederick Freeman (Temujin Kensu), the man convicted of killing Macklem, was not guilty. His passion for redressing this injustice led Bill to found Proving Innocence.

Building Matters: Rainwater "Borrowing"

Water is our most natural resource, yet harvesting and using it in buildings is one of our most complicated ordinances.

Learn how rainwater has historically been used in buildings, how other areas of the country are slowly starting to make net-zero-water buildings a reality, and what opportunities Ann Arbor has to be a water leader.

Jessica A.S. Letaw enjoys working on, thinking over, and telling stories about architecture. Her past day jobs included design/build and construction firms. She lives in Ann Arbor with her rescue hound, Henry, and keeps herself out of trouble by volunteering for the Ann Arbor Summer Festival and other local events. She enjoys reading, gardening, and well-made White Russians.

Building Matters: Net Metering

Michigan is one of several states currently discussing net metering and 11 other states are also debating this issue. How much do you know? In some ways, this amounts to a coal v. solar smack down.

Let’s discuss the technology, science, and political implications of this model of energy generation and distribution.

Jessica A.S. Letaw enjoys working on, thinking over, and telling stories about architecture. Her past day jobs included design/build and construction firms. She lives in Ann Arbor with her rescue hound, Henry, and keeps herself out of trouble by volunteering for the Ann Arbor Summer Festival and other local events. She enjoys reading, gardening, and well-made White Russians.

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Redistricting in Michigan: Should Politicians Choose Their Voters?

The League of Women Voters of the Ann Arbor Area (LWV-AAA) hosts this educational Town Hall on redistricting. The presentation will explore how legislative lines are drawn in Michigan, who draws them and why it is a critically important question for those concerned about fair representation. The speaker is Susan Smith, Vice President of the League of Women Voters of Michigan.

In Michigan, the district lines are drawn by elected officials in the legislature, effectively allowing politicians to choose their voters and giving the political party in power at the time a tremendous advantage. What are the ramifications of partisan-drawn districts that favor one party over another? Is there a better and fairer way to do this? What are the alternatives?

Award-Winning Mystery Author Allison Leotta Discusses Her Detroit-Based New Novel "A Good Killing"

Allison Leotta is a former federal sex-crimes prosecutor who creates compelling and thrilling fiction based on her real-life experience. She served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Washington DC, where she handled sex crimes, domestic violence, and crimes against children.

In her latest novel, A Good Killing, Leotta turns her eye toward small-town secrets hidden in a big football program. Drawing inspiration from the Steubenville rape case and the Jerry Sandusky trial, this novel features a strong female protagonist, a gripping premise, and heart-wrenching suspense that will keep you hooked until the last page.

A graduate of Michigan State University and Harvard Law School Allison Leotta has provided legal commentary for outlets such as CNN, PBS, Reuters TV, and MSNBC. Other novels include Law of Attraction, Discretion, and Speak of the Devil. Allison also runs an award-winning blog called The Prime-Time Crime Review, where she reality-checks TV crime dramas.

This event is cosponsored by Aunt Agatha's Mystery Bookstore.

The May 5 State Ballot Proposal: What Is It? What Would It Do?

The League of Women Voters of the Ann Arbor Area (LWV-AAA) hosts this discussion of the May 5 Ballot Proposal, “A proposal to amend the State Constitution to increase the sales/use tax from 6% to 7% to replace and supplement reduced revenue to the School Aid Fund and local units of government caused by the elimination of the sales/use tax on gasoline and diesel fuel for vehicles operating on public roads, and to give effect to laws that provide additional money for roads and other transportation purposes by increasing the gas tax and vehicle registration fees.”

Susan Smith, President, League of Women Voters of Michigan, will lead the discussion, which will provide information on the proposal to amend the Michigan Constitution and on new laws that will be triggered if the amendment is approved by the voters. The presentation includes information on how state revenue would be increased and how it would be spent. Pros and cons of passing the legislation will also be discussed.

The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization and this event's cosponsor, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.

LBJ and the Great Society Speech

The University of Michigan Commencement of May 22, 1964, set a precedent that may come as a surprise to many Ann Arborites. It was the first time a sitting President spoke on campus. Despite the fact that he would be in town only a short time, the preparations on the campus and in the city to welcome President Lyndon B. Johnson were extensive. Public and private schools were scheduled to close on Commencement Day. Local, state and federal law enforcement agencies planned a coordinated security effort to accommodate what was expected to be President Johnson's largest audience.

President Johnson used the opportunity to promote his Great Society initiative, aimed at addressing poverty and racial inequality in the United States. The Ann Arbor News ran the entire text of the speech and University President Harlan H. Hatcher praised a " serious and significant" speech. The election-year speech brought politicians in droves to the commencement and Ann Arbor News reporter Bud Vestal provided insightful commentary on the political interplay throughout the day, especially between LBJ and Governor Romney.

C-SPAN was in town recently filming for an upcoming program on Ann Arbor that includes interviews with local authors, community and cultural leaders. Local historian Grace Shackman, whose Then & Now columns in the Observer have chronicled much of Ann Arbor's past, was interviewed about LBJ's time in Ann Arbor. Coverage of C-SPAN's Ann Arbor visit will be aired on November 16 & 17 on C-SPAN's Book TV and American History TV.

Read all the Ann Arbor News articles on President Johnson's visit to Ann Arbor.

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