Cornelius Fredericks died May 1 after being held down for 12 minutes by staff at Lakeside Academy in Kalamazoo. The 16-year-old’s death prompted Lakeside to shut down and the state to ban physical restraints on children.
Unfortunately, Fredericks was not the first victim of an institution and a system that has been underfunded and under-managed for years. He also isn’t the last. That’s according to an investigation conducted by Michigan Radio into what led up to his death and what has happened since.
When the academy closed in June there were still 124 boys living there. Many of them have been homeless ever since. Eight of them are missing. One has since died.
Before it closed, Lakeside had been in trouble repeatedly. The State of Michigan had investigated more than dozen complaints in just the past two years. There were also investigations ongoing from other states that had sent boys to live at the facility.
The investigation suggests there is more than enough blame to go around, not least to Sequel Youth and Family Services, the for-profit company that has run Lakeside since 2007.
State legislators have passed a series of bills that would change how people with criminal records can have their records expunged.
The bills would make it easier for people who served sentences for various misdemeanors and felonies to have those crimes wiped from their records, in some cases making it automatic after a certain amount of time.
A criminal record often makes it difficult for people to get a job or acquire housing. Supporters of the bills say they would help a lot of people.
“Making expungement cheaper, easier and available to more residents than ever before will remove the barriers that hold too many people back,” said Representative Graham Filler, R-DeWitt, in a statement to Bridge Michigan.
The new rules would automatically clear a person’s criminal record if they have not committed another crime. Misdemeanor records would be cleared after seven years and felonies after ten years or after the person’s criminal sentence has ended, whichever is later.
Some crimes would not be eligible for expungement. In particular, violent crimes, crimes punishable by more than ten years in prison, and serious crimes like human trafficking would be exempt.
The bills would do several other things:
The bills are now headed for the governor’s desk where she is expected to sign them.
You can read the full story here.
State health officials reported 982 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday bringing the state’s seven day moving average to 701.
The state also reported eight new deaths from the virus, six of which were discovered during a review of previous death records. There have now been 6,700 confirmed deaths from the virus in Michigan since the beginning of the pandemic.
COVID-19 is on-pace to become the third leading cause of death in Michigan behind heart disease and cancer.
Health officials are warning people who visited Mackinac Island during the past week they may have been exposed to COVID-19. A person who tested positive for the coronavirus visited several locations on the island between September 16 and 22.
Officials have listed seven specific locations and times that people should be aware of and are encouraging people who think they may have been exposed to pay attention for possible symptoms.
Kalamazoo County health officials reported 27 new confirmed COVID-19 infections as well as 17 probable infections based on antibody tests. One new person has died from the virus.
The last thing the governor wanted during the early days of the pandemic was for people to line up at Secretary of State’s offices to renew vehicle registrations. That’s why Governor Gretchen Whitmer ordered a moratorium on deadlines for those registrations.
That moratorium ends September 30.
Anyone whose driver’s license or vehicle registration expired between March 1 and September 29 has less than four business days to take care of it.
SOS services are being offered by appointment only, but the offices are staying open extra late to fit in all the people doing last-minute business.
You can register for an appointment here.
Many renewals and registrations can be done online or by mail. There are also self-service stations at many places such as Meijer.
You can find self-service kiosks here.
State health officials have issued guidelines on how to have a safe Halloween during the coronavirus pandemic and it doesn’t completely rule out trick-or-treating.
The advisory from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) dovetails with those put out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention earlier this week. But while the CDC labels trick-or-treating a high-risk activity, the MDHHS gives guidance on how to do it safely.
They include tips for parents:
They also have tips for people who want to hand out candy this Halloween:
The MDHHS also encourages virtual Halloween parties and other measures that allow people to celebrate without getting together in person.
You can read the full news release here.
Michigan’s COVID-19 numbers have been stable for months now. Since July, Michigan’s new COVID-19 infections have hovered generally between 600 and 700 new cases per day – well below numbers from April, but still far above where we were in June.
Michigan’s top epidemiologist, Dr. Sarah Lyon-Callo, told lawmakers Wednesday that the state is on an “elevated plateau” based on infection rates. That means state leaders aren’t likely to loosen COVID-19 rules anytime soon.
Lyon-Callo and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon testified for two hours Wednesday in front of the Joint Select Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Lyon-Callo told lawmakers her department examines coronavirus data very closely to see whether previous rule changes made any difference to infection rates.
“If you’ve made a change, you need two weeks to understand what that change did,” Lyon-Callo said. “We try to make incremental changes with that in mind.”
You can read more on MLive.
Less than a month into the new school year, Kalamazoo Public Schools leaders are already worrying about what may come next.
During a meeting Tuesday night, the KPS Board of Education discussed a plan to move from online-only classes to a hybrid option that would have students taking classes online two days per week and in-person two days per week.
As it stands the district would have students move to the hybrid model on November 30 after the first trimester ends, but district leaders say that decision ultimately depends on COVID-19 data and what students’ parents want.
“We are going to have to make some really hard decisions and the district will make the decision based on what we calculate to be best for the majority of our students,” Superintendent Rita Raichoudhuri said during the meeting.
The district plans listening sessions early in October to get a feel for what parents and others think about hybrid classes. The district expects to make a decision about its second trimester plans by October 22.
The state House on Wednesday passed a group of bills that would restrict COVID-19 related lawsuits.
The Republican-majority chamber said it’s important to protect businesses during a pandemic they have no control over.
One bill, passed on partisan lines, would limit when a person who contracted COVID-19 could sue a business that led to their infection. Specifically, a person would only be able to sue if their infection caused:
It would also protect businesses that manufacture off-brand PPE such as face masks.
A final bill would make employees liable for going to work while sick. It also would protect employees by banning businesses from firing them for refusing to violate COVID-19 guidelines.
The bills now go to the Senate for consideration.
You can read more on MLive.
State health officials reported 705 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday. The seven day moving average is now 679 new cases per day. The average of new cases has been relatively stable over the past two months, but the state’s top epidemiologist still says it’s too high.
The state reported 12 new deaths from the virus as well. The state’s average death rate has also been fairly stable at about 10 new deaths per day.
Parts of the state’s upper penninsula are experiencing a surge in new infections. Houghton, Iron, Menominee, and Delta counties on the western side of the U.P. have all seen sharp increases in new infections. The Harvard Global Health Initiative has moved all four counties into the “red” zone meaning they’re experiencing more than 25 new infections per day per 100,000 people.
Kalamazoo County health officials reported 27 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday with another 28 probable cases coming from antibody testing. The county is averaging 32 new cases per day. One new person has died from the virus.
About 778,000 unemployed Michiganders received an extra $900 in their bank accounts over the past dozen days thanks to a $300 per week payment ordered by President Donald Trump.
Those surviving on unemployment insurance can expect a second round of payments in the coming days, but that will likely be the last.
The first round of payments covered unemployment claims from the first three weeks of August. The second will cover the following three weeks.
The money comes from an executive order by the president, rather than from an allocation by Congress. In this case, the funding is reallocated from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and is expected to run out soon.
Meanwhile, officials with the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) estimate that 910,000 unemployed residents haven’t received any of the money because they haven’t filled out a form that would qualify them. That form can be found on the UIA’s website.