By ZHAO PENG
Capital News Service
LANSING — The arrest rate for girls age 18 and younger has decreased significantly from 13 percent in 2011 to 7 percent in 2014, according to the State Police.
The number of girls arrested decreased from 8,835 in 2011 to 5,410 in 2013, then to 5,055 in 2014, according to Shanon Banner, public affairs manager at the State Police.
But those numbers are still significant, and few projects and programs in the juvenile system are specifically for girls, according to the Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency (MCCD).
“But there should be because it’s a big deal with a large population of young women in the justice system,” said Kristen Staley, the deputy director of the MCCD.
Most of the MCCD’s is focused on young people of both genders in the juvenile system, but Staley said the council is working on bills that would benefit female juveniles.
“There is a handful of pending bills right now that would do a couple of things, such as prohibit the placement of young people under the age of 18 into our facilities. The other bill is about raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction from 17 to 18. These bills are not only for girls but they will certainly impact them,” Staley said.
According to Bob Wheaton, manager of communications at the Department of Health and Human Services, Bay Pines Center in Escanaba is the only state-operated facility for both male and female juvenile offenders. The other state-operated center, Shawono Center in Grayling, is only for males.
“All youth at Bay Pines Center are court-ordered by a judge that has determined their behaviors are a danger to themselves or the members of the community,” said Barbra LaRue, the center director. “These youth require placement in a secure facility.”
According to LaRue, the number of girls Bay Pines Center receives increased in the last three years, with 30 in 2013, 39 in 2014 and 59 in 2015.
Bay Pines Center has no programs exclusively for girls, but every youth at Bay Pines Center is assessed for treatment needs, LaRue said.
“Based on that assessment, an individualized treatment plan is established to meet those needs. This may include individualized psychological and psychiatric services that focus on self-reflection, personal responsibility and restorative justice,” LaRue said.
Females at Bay Pines Center benefit from community-based services such as community mental health and the YMCA on an individualized basis, said LaRue.
Girls who are pregnant under a certain age receive services such as prenatal care, parenting intervention, on-site visitation with their babies, psychological services and group treatment, LaRue said.
Melinda Fandel, a juvenile justice specialist at the Michigan Committee on Juvenile Justice, said the committee has awarded a grant to Alternative for Girls in Wayne County, which is geared toward female youth.
Fandel said services provided by Alternatives for Girls include leadership development groups, group counseling, mentoring, youth peer education, and community outreach on topics such as healthy sexual development, self-worth, healthy relationships and physical health.
By ZHAO PENG