Barbara Bellinger is a master's student in journalism at Michigan State University. Her journalistic interests include undocumented immigration, international journalism and the criminal justice system. She hopes to become a reporter for CNN, NPR or a local Michigan news outlet.
TEENAGE HOMICIDES: The number of Michigan teenagers killed by homicide jumped by 70% from 50 in 2019 to 85 in 2020. That’s more than double the 31% increase of all homicides for the same period, according to the FBI’s recent Uniform Crime Report. Social media, music and environmental triggers may be among the causes, say some experts who work with youthful offenders. We talk to Lansing and Flint youth counselors. By Barbara Bellinger FOR ALL POINTS
BACKYARD BIRDSEED LAW: Fewer Michigan residents with sloppy backyard birds could be ticketed for potentially spreading disease among deer and elk under a bill the state Senate recently sent to the governor’s desk. Bird lovers now can be ticketed for allowing feed to spill or otherwise feed deer in areas where Chronic Wasting Disease has been detected. But in the unlikely event that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signs the bill, it would allow recreational feeding of birds and wildlife anywhere as long as the feed is within 300 feet of the residence and not more than 2 gallons is placed out. By Barbara Bellinger. FOR ALL POINTS
SNOWMOBILE HELMET LAW: Off-road vehicle and snowmobile riders who get panic attacks would not have to wear a helmet under a bill already passed by the Senate. A doctor’s note would give a “get-out-of-jail” free card – similar to excuses some people receive to not wear seatbelts – to Michigan outdoor enthusiasts who have certain physical or mental conditions. We talk to snowmobilers from Acme and Harbor Springs and bill sponsor Sen. Ed McBroom, R-Wauceda, By Barbara Bellenger. FOR HARBOR SPRINGS, PETOSKEY, TRAVERSE CITY, CHEBOYGAN, ST. IGNACE, SAULT STE. MARIE, MARQUETTE AND ALL POINTS.
DOUBLE UP FOOD PROGRAM A program that gives low-income Michiganders fresh fruit and vegetables and a path to healthier nutrition recently got a $2 million boost from state lawmakers. That’s up from the $900,000 program that gives participants a dollar-for-dollar match on fresh fruits and vegetables. Families receive twice the quantity of produce for half the price. By Barbara Bellinger. FOR PETOSKEY, TRAVERSE CITY AND ALL POINTS.
INMATE VACCINE HESITANCY: Inmate requests for vaccinations have slowed to a trickle in recent months despite posters in the halls and testimonials from Michigan sports figures and doctors, which playing nonstop on the prison television channel. “That’s not going to make a difference,” said Aaron Kinzel, professor of criminology and criminal justice at the University of Michigan-Dearborn and a criminal justice reform advocate. Local prison numbers available on vaccine dashboard at https://www.michigan.gov/coronavirus/0,9753,7-406-98178_103214_103272-547150–,00.html
We interview a state prison spokesman and inmate advocates at Michigan State University and University of Michigan-Dearborn. For IONIA, MARQUETTE and ALL POINTS
HUMANTRAFFICKING: Police have made arrests this year for human trafficking in Oakland County and more recently in Mecosta County. Yet legislation that would keep victims of human trafficking from being arrested, charged and jailed when they are coerced to commit crimes has not moved since legislative hearings were held in early March and the end of April. Interviews with Attorney General Dana Nessel, DeWitt and Casco Township lawmakers and an MSU task force leader. BY BARBARA BELLINGER For LANSING and ALL POINTS.