Attorney General Dana Nessel introduces Job Court Pilot Program in Marquette

The program aims to help Michiganders accused of low-level non-violent crimes enter the job market.
Published: Apr. 11, 2023 at 4:30 PM EDT
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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - A program to reduce crime and increase the workforce has been introduced in Marquette County.

Tuesday morning, Attorney General Dana Nessel introduced the Job Court Pilot Program inside Marquette’s Michigan Works! building. The program aims to help Michiganders accused of low-level non-violent crimes enter the job market.

It is the first of its kind in the nation and the Marquette office is the first of three to open in Michigan.

“We believe in the criminal justice system, we believe in people being held accountable when they have violated the law. But we also believe in second chances and opportunities for people to benefit themselves, and I think this really combines all of those things,” Nessel said.

Nessel said to complete the program, participants must satisfactorily maintain their employment for one year. They will work full-time for a designated job court employer.

“It’s going to be great for local employers who have been short-staffed,” Nessel said. “We know what the labor market has looked like recently, and to not just be able to fill job vacancies that a lot of these business need.”

Once completed, participants will have the opportunity to dismiss eligible charges. 100 will be selected for the program each year in Marquette County.

“We will also be providing wrap-around services such as making sure the employees can get to work on time, they have child care or other services to make them the best employees they can possibly be,” Nessel said.

Jenna Nelson is the Marquette County chief assistant prosecuting attorney. She said her office will check the eligibility of prospective participants.

“We’re going to be looking at past criminal history and whether or not someone could be a risk to public safety, to determine eligibility,” Nelson said. “If there is a victim in the case, we will be getting input from them, and we would want them to agree to the individual participating in the program.”

Great Lakes Recovery Centers CEO Greg Toutant is looking forward to the pilot in action.

“We feel like this program will allow a lot of citizens a leg up in relation to their recovery but also their health and wellbeing in the community,” Toutant said.

Nessel said the program is looking to add more job court employers. If you are an interested employer, click here.