Elizabeth (Beth) J. Arnovits (1950-2011) served as MCCD’s executive director for 36 years, leading justice reform and crime prevention efforts at the local, state and federal levels.
Among her many accomplishments, she spearheaded successful campaigns to redesign the state’s community corrections and advocate against the death penalty. In 1979, Beth convened the Michigan Juvenile Justice Collaborative, which successfully changed state laws to remove children from adult jails. Through her efforts and leadership, the Collaborative continues today to advocate for the safety and welfare of children. She created MCCD’s Children’s Visitation Program for children of incarcerated mothers, which was one of the first of its kind in the nation. She was an early leader in the movement to improve Michigan’s system for providing quality legal defense for those who cannot afford it. Always focused on creating safer communities, Beth led MCCD’s partnership with the Department of Corrections and others on implementing Michigan’s prisoner reentry initiative.
In 2012, the National Juvenile Justice Network’s Executive Committee established the Beth Arnovits “Gutsy Advocate for Youth” Award, honoring Beth as one of NJJN’s founders and a true leader in the juvenile justice reform movement. Beth’s heart for second chances made a huge difference in the lives of youth, and her adventurous approach to life inspired those who worked beside her. Each year, NJJN will honor an individual advocate for youth justice who embodies the tenacity, vision, fearlessness and wisdom of Beth Arnovits.