Michigan’s juvenile justice system faces changes

LANSING — Michigan’s Task Force on Juvenile Justice Reform has met to approve a comprehensive set of recommendations aimed at transforming Michigan’s juvenile justice system.

These recommendations are based on an unprecedented assessment of Michigan’s juvenile justice system and are grounded in what research shows works to improve community safety, reduce disparities, and improve youth outcomes.

The approved recommendations establish a statewide blueprint for aligning policies and practices across the juvenile justice continuum with research and best practices, including:

  • Expand diversion options for youth who do not pose a risk to public safety.
  • Create a statewide juvenile public defense system and best practice standards.
  • Increase funding for effective community programs, including alternatives to incarceration, and link funding to evidence-based practices.
  • Adopt data-driven tools to guide diversion, justice and detention decisions.
  • Strengthening standards and quality assurance for local probation practices and statewide residential programs.
  • Expand data collection to measure system performance, outcomes and equity.
  • And the creation of a statewide advisory council comprised of youth and families impacted by the system to help guide ongoing improvements to the system.

The bipartisan task force was originally formed in June 2021 to study the juvenile justice system and develop data-based recommendations for statewide reform. This assessment involved analysis of case-level data, focus groups with hundreds of diverse stakeholders across the state, and listening sessions with youth and families directly impacted by the system. Based on this assessment, several working groups met for months to identify and make recommendations to the working group on how best to improve the system.

“We all want safer communities and making sure children get the services they need to get their lives back on track,” said Huron Township Police Chief Everette Robbins. “I am pleased that we are investing in effective community services while also focusing on improving services in institutions for children who commit more serious offenses so that they can successfully reintegrate into the community.

The task force was comprised of leaders from all branches of government, state and local agencies, those working in and affected by the system, and other stakeholders, and was facilitated by the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center.

The task force will release a full report of the assessment findings and approved recommendations, and then work to translate and adopt the approved recommendations into legislation, administration, court rules and other policy changes. .

To learn more about the recommendations, visit https://michigancommitteeonjuvenilejustice.com/jj-reform-task-force/

ABOUT THE COUNCIL OF STATE GOVERNMENTS JUSTICE CENTER

The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center is a national, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that combines the power of a membership association, representing state officials in all three branches of government, with expertise in policy and research to develop strategies that increase public safety and strengthen communities. For more information about the CSG Justice Center, visit www.csgjusticecenter.org.