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Attorney General Nessel Supports Juvenile Justice Bills

LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel today announced her support of 20 bills in the Legislature aimed at reforming juvenile justice in the state. House bills 4624-43 serve to fulfill many recommendations of the Michigan Task Force on Juvenile Justice Reform established by Governor Whitmer’s Executive Order 2021-6. The Task Force includes Michigan residents from across the state with various areas of expertise, including Assistant Attorney General Stine Grand from the Department’s Criminal Trials and Appeals Division. 

The bills seek to enhance the Child Care Fund to focus on establishing a minimum framework of juvenile best practices statewide, expand the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission to include development, oversight, and compliance with youth defense standards in local county defense systems, and require the use of a validated risk screening tool and a validated mental health screening tool to inform diversion and consent calendar decisions and expand the Diversion Act so that most, and the least severe offenses, are eligible for pre-court diversion based on established criteria and the use of a research-based risk screening tool. 

As prosecutors, when tackling the fate of juvenile offenders, the priority should most often focus on rehabilitation, and this package of bills will set the State on the right path to support that effort,” Nessel said. “Building a support network that can offer Michigan youth the highest likelihood of finding a stable life outside of the criminal justice system is a priority of mine, and I’m grateful the legislature is addressing this need.” 

The package of bills was introduced in the House of Representatives in May of this year and referred to the House Committee on Criminal Justice. Ten of the 20 bills, HB 4634-4643, were reported out of committee yesterday and will proceed to the full chamber. The policies of these bills are mirrored in Senate legislation referred to the Senate Civil Rights and Judiciary Committee as Senate Bills 418-437. The bills are available on the website of the Michigan Legislature.   

This legislation is consistent with other recent improvements to Michigan’s juvenile justice system, including raising the age of juvenile court jurisdiction. The legislature has prioritized rehabilitating juvenile offenders and focused the state’s resources on improving the juvenile justice system. This legislation is meant to help reduce outcome disparity and lead to more positive outcomes for youth in the justice system, make communities safer, and reduce juvenile recidivism. This bill package aims to refocus necessary resources on the rehabilitation of youthful offenders and to redirect those who might otherwise end up in prison away from the criminal justice system. 


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