ACLU pushes for investigation of 'unconscionable' Macomb County Jail death


  • Screengrab (WDIV)
On Monday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan issued a letter pressing the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the death of David Stojcevski, the Roseville man who died from drug withdrawal in Macomb County Jail this summer, Buzzfeed News reports.

Calling Stojcevski's death “unconscionable,” the ACLU urged the Department of Justice to investigate what they regard as "two systemic civil rights problems" that led to Stojcevski's death. The first calls into question the jail’s treatment of the mentally ill and chemically dependent, as those responsible for Stojcevski's safety apparently "watched over video as the life ebbed out of him.” (The video was released to WDIV.)

The other problem, the ACLU says, is that Stojcevski's was a "pay or stay" sentence. As an earlier Buzzfeed News report suggested, transcripts indicate Judge Joseph Boedeker did not ask Stojcevski about his ability to pay the tickets at the time of sentencing. The ACLU letter cited the 1983 Supreme Court ruling in Bearden v. Georgia:

“Pay or stay” sentence are unconstitutional when they result in harsher punishment — that is, incarceration — for defendants who lack the ability to pay. As the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized, to deprive a defendant of freedom “simply because, through no fault of his own, he cannot pay [a] fine” is “contrary to the fundamental fairness by the Fourteenth Amendment."

Read the full letter here.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.