Washtenaw County, Michigan is farmland and fairgrounds, stadiums and street fairs, four lane roads and
forests. With a population of almost 345,000 people spread out in a rural, urban, suburban patchwork
interlaced with rivers, Washtenaw County is considered by many who live here as a tolerant, welcoming
place to raise one’s family, attend school and earn a living. It is all that. For some.
Like millions of people around the country, the most recent killings of Black people by law enforcement
jarred Washtenaw residents of every race and, in many instances, brought them out to protests,
marches and vigils. It is against this backdrop of racial reckoning and a focused awareness on the long-
standing and harmful impacts of racial inequities in our criminal legal system that Citizens for Racial
Equity in Washtenaw (CREW) was born. While much of the attention lately has been on police practices,
CREW recognized that other actors in the criminal legal system might play a big role in a system that
does not live out our nation’s creed of “equal justice under law.”
CREW and fellow residents of Washtenaw County rolled up our sleeves and dug into publicly available
Washtenaw County Court case data on the charging and sentencing of individuals in Washtenaw County
to assess whether the data reflected any racial disparities and the impact of any disparity on members
of our community.
Our months-long study reveals some significant racial inequities in both the charging and sentencing of
members of our community. The breadth of these disparities and the impact in terms of punishment on
People of Color are stark such that CREW presents this report to our community with a call for immediate action by those institutions responsible for funding, administering and overseeing the
criminal legal system in Washtenaw County. This report explains the parameters of CREW’s work, asks
additional questions and sets forth findings and recommendations -- not just for further study,
monitoring and accountability -- but for action to prevent any future injustice based on racial disparities
and unequal treatment in the county’s criminal legal system.
Citizens have power. We can march with our feet, vote with our hands, listen with our ears, read with our eyes and create change with our voice. CREW urges you to read about our findings and the changes we believe are necessary to make Washtenaw County that tolerant, welcoming place working together to ensure equal justice under law. If you agree, join us in raising our voices together.