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.
In the last ten years, more than twenty-thousand youth have been convicted as adults in the state of Michigan. A package of 22 bills in the state house is looking to curb those numbers. All it takes is a bad decision. Elisheva Johnson knows that all too well. “I stole from my job to pay for the rent,” Johnson said.
By CAITLIN McARTHUR
Capital News Service
LANSING — Michigan’s tough juvenile justice laws pose a safety risk for teens, produce repeat offenders and can actually make crime worse, reform advocates say. Michigan is one of just nine states to automatically prosecute 17-year-olds as adults, and it has no minimum age at which a person may be sentenced as an adult. Both policies are at odds with national trends and have legislators concerned the state’s approach is outdated. A report released last year by the Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency found youth incarcerated in the adult prison system faced an extreme risk of violence, sexual assault and self-harm. The study of state trends from 2003 to 2013 also found the state lacked appropriate rehabilitative services for young people exiting the prison system, making them more violent and more likely to reoffend than young people in the juvenile justice system. New legislation expected to be announced at an early April forum and introduced in the House of Representatives later this spring will take a bipartisan approach to reforming Michigan’s approach to juvenile justice.