October, 2014: Youth Justice Awareness Month

WHEREAS, The historical role of the juvenile justice system is to rehabilitate and treat youth while holding them accountable for their actions and also maintaining public safety. It is therefore acknowledged that, when possible, keeping youth within their families, homes, and community is a best practice; and,

WHEREAS, Youth are developmentally different from adults and these differences are documented by research on the adolescent brain and acknowledged by many state and federal laws that treat youth disparately based upon their age and stage of development; and,

WHEREAS, Most laws allowing the prosecution of youth as adults were enacted prior to evidence produced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention that demonstrate that about 70-80% of youth treated in a punitive, non-therapeutic program will reoffend; and,

WHEREAS, It is estimated that over 70% of children in the juvenile justice system have a diagnosable mental health condition, of these 30% have a serious emotional disturbance; and,

WHEREAS, Youth detained or involved in the juvenile or criminal justice system should be kept in the least restrictive setting possible with family inclusion and services provided to aide in treatment; and,

WHEREAS, 200,000 youth are tried, sentenced, or incarcerated as adults every year in the United States and most of the youth are prosecuted for non-violent offenses; and,    

WHEREAS, Youth with criminal records face hurdles with regard to education and employment; and,

WHEREAS, Moving a youth from the adult criminal justice system into community-based services or to the juvenile justice system is more cost-effective;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Rick Snyder, governor of Michigan, do hereby proclaim October 2014 as Youth Justice Awareness Month in Michigan.