On July 18, 2022, the Michigan Task Force on Juvenile Justice Reform (Task Force) met to approve a comprehensive set of consensus-based recommendations to transform 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 practice and include the following:
- Establish a minimum age of juvenile court jurisdiction and expand diversion opportunities for youth who are not a public safety risk.
- Create a statewide juvenile public defense system and best practice standards.
- Increase funding for effective community-based programs, including alternatives to incarceration, and tie funding to evidence-based practices.
- Adopt data-driven tools to guide diversion, court, and detention decisions.
- Strengthen standards and quality assurance for local probation practices and statewide residential programs.
- Expand data collection to measure system performance, outcomes, and equity.
- Establish a statewide advisory board of youth and families impacted by the system to help guide ongoing system improvements.
The bipartisan Task Force was initially formed in June 2021 to study the juvenile justice system and develop data-driven recommendations for statewide reform. This assessment involved case-level data analysis, 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, multiple working groups met for months to identify and make recommendations to the Task Force for how best to improve the system.
“Michigan continues to lead on justice issues, and these recommendations reaffirm our dedication to support our young Michiganders and improve community safety,” said Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “These recommendations will reduce how many youth come into contact with the juvenile justice system and also serve young people that do enter the system more effectively and developmentally appropriately. We won’t let one mistake in a young person’s life shatter their future.”
“I’m proud of the work of the Task Force and what we have achieved for our young people today,” said Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Clement. “We are providing local courts with more tools to guide diversion and disposition decisions, more resources to keep young people in their homes and communities and effectively meet their needs, and more training and technical assistance through the State Court Administrator’s Office to help local courts to implement new policies and programs effectively.”
The Task Force, chaired by Lt. Governor Gilchrist and composed of leaders from across branches of government, state and local agencies, and those working in and impacted by the system, was facilitated by The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center.
“We are thrilled with today’s decision by the Task Force to approve a set of recommendations across the juvenile justice continuum,” said Nina Salomon, deputy division director, Corrections and Reentry at the CSG Justice Center. “It is encouraging to see the Task Force united in their commitment to advance positive outcomes for youth, commit to improving system equity, while also addressing and improving public safety measures. Today is a win for everyone.”
As a next step, the Task Force will work to translate and adopt the approved recommendations into legislation, administrative, and other policy changes.
To learn more about the recommendations, please visit https://michigancommitteeonjuvenilejustice.com/jj-reform-task-force/.
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