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Juvenile Justice Bills Supported by AG Nessel Pass in House, Senate
October 17, 2023
LANSING – Today, the state House of Representatives passed a slate of bills to reform juvenile justice supported by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. House Bills 4625-26, 4628-30, 4633, 4636-37, 4639-4640 and 4643, taken together with Senate Bills 418, 421, 425, 426, 428, 429, 432, 435, and 436, which passed in the Senate last week, 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.
“Michigan’s youth deserve smart investments, and that requires leaning on best practices and innovative tools,” said Nessel. “Rehabilitation must be our top priority for children in our criminal justice system and I’m grateful this legislature is continuing to work on solutions that carry this goal forward.”
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. The package of bills was introduced in May, and 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.