Advocates say state needs more discretion with youth offenders

Capital News Service
LANSING – Michigan’s tough approach to youth crime is under scrutiny. It’s the result of a bigger problem, says Kathleen Bailey, a professor and director of the School of Criminal Justice at Grand Valley State University. The problem boils down to “get tough” policies Michigan and many other states passed in the 1980s and 1990s on juvenile crime, she said. Those laws created policies like “adult time for adult crime,” which encouraged charging youth as adults ¬– often with stricter sentencing and more jail time – in the wake of what many people feared was a massive juvenile crime wave. “What happened is you got these unforgiving sentences and policies against youth offenders that were kind of built by a lie – the Armageddon never came,” Bailey said.