LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Roger Victory’s legislation — part of a bipartisan package to bring Michigan’s juvenile justice policy in line with national research and best practices — is on its way to the governor’s desk after being enrolled by the Senate on Thursday.
“We are near the finish line on these comprehensive and long-overdue reforms to help protect Michigan communities and improve outcomes for young people in our justice system,” said Victory, R-Hudsonville. “I look forward to seeing the governor finish this process by signing this bipartisan package into law to focus Michigan’s juvenile justice system on protecting our communities, improving rehabilitation and preparing young people to successfully become productive adults.”
The legislation stems from the work of the bipartisan Task Force on Juvenile Justice Reform, which oversaw a comprehensive, data-driven assessment of Michigan’s juvenile justice system. The task force found large inconsistencies across the state in the use of research-based policies and practices that work to reduce recidivism.
Victory’s Senate Bill 432, would rename the Office of Children’s Ombudsman as the Office of the Child Advocate and increase its role to include juveniles who are in residential facilities or victims in child abuse or maltreatment cases.
Other bills in the package would require a risk and needs assessment be completed for each minor before disposition, push juveniles toward diversion programs when possible, require juveniles to be housed in the least restrictive environment, boost access to indigent defense for juveniles, and add items to be considered when prosecutors decide whether to try a juvenile as an adult.
“When signed into law, these measures will establish a foundation of juvenile justice best practices, maintain local flexibility and discretion, and require the use of screening and assessment tools to make data-driven decisions — so we can help reduce recidivism, improve outcomes and achieve long-term savings,” Victory said.
SBs 418, 421, 425-426, 428-429, 432 and 435-436 and House Bills 4625-4626, 4628-4629, 4633, 4636-4637, 4639-4640 and 4643 now head to governor.