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Implementation of
Justice for Kids and Communities

The Task Force on Juvenile Justice Reform, formed by Governor Whitmer and led by Lt. Governor Gilchrist, took a comprehensive look at the state’s system and released its report in July 2022 with 32 recommendations for improving Michigan’s juvenile justice system. The Justice for Kids and Communities package was developed as a result of the Task Force’s recommendations and passed the Michigan State Legislature in November 2023. 

 

The reforms include:

Expanding the Child Care Fund (CCF)

SB 0418 (PA 297)

This legislation establishes a statewide minimum framework of juvenile justice best practices. These best practices will be reinforced by raising the reimbursement rate for community-based care to 75%, requiring the adoption of evidence-based practices like risk screening, assessment, detention screening, and hiring local quality assurance specialists. Additionally, counties can utilize CCF dollars for pre-arrest diversion, effectively redirecting low-risk youth from the juvenile justice system. This legislation takes effect on October 1, 2024. View the full bill here: SB 0418 (PA 297)

Expanding the Diversion Act and utilizing Risk Screening & Mental Health Screening Tools

HB 4625 (PA 287) - HB 4626 (PA 288) and HB 4628 (PA 289)

The reforms primarily aim to broaden access to diversion, especially for low-risk youth, based on using a risk screening tool and a mental health screening tool. These screenings must be conducted before deciding on diversion or consent calendars. Restitution can no longer be considered in determining whether a young person is eligible for diversion or a consent calendar. Juvenile diversion agreements are limited to a maximum duration of 3 months unless a determination is made that a more extended period is necessary for the minor to complete a specific treatment program. View the full bills here: HB 4625 (PA 287) - HB 4626 (PA 288) and HB 4628 (PA 289)

Adjusting the Juvenile Justice Residential Per Diem Rate & Changes to Provider Service Agreements

SB 426 (PA 300)

The Michigan Department of Health & Human Services (MDHHS) is given the authority to adjust the per diem (daily) rate for juvenile justice residential services as needed. However, any adjustments must stay within the amount allocated for this purpose in the annual budget. MDHHS can also make changes to provider service agreements. View the full bill here: SB 426 (PA 300)

Requiring a Risk and Needs Assessment

SB 421 (PA 298)

This legislation mandates that a designated, trained individual or agency conducts a risk and needs assessment for each juvenile before a disposition decision. It stipulates that a court must consider the risk and needs assessment results and several other factors when making a disposition decision. An additional assessment is required if six months have passed since the prior evaluation, the juvenile has experienced a major life event, or a significant change has occurred in the juvenile’s proceedings. View the full bill here: SB 421 (PA 298)

Eliminating a Majority of Juvenile Court Fines and Fees

SB 428 (PA 301),  SB 429 (PA 302), HB 4636 (PA 292), HB 4637 (PA 293)

This legislation eliminates most costs associated with the juvenile justice system. This includes removing fees and costs related to consent calendar, DNA testing costs for juveniles, or a parent/legal guardian of a youth. It also eliminates fees and costs associated with residential placement and court-appointed attorney fees. This legislation does not remove costs related to restitution and the Crime Victims Fund. View the full bills here: SB 428 (PA 301),  SB 429 (PA 302), HB 4636 (PA 292), HB 4637 (PA 293)

Revising Considerations for Waivers and Designations

HB 4633 (PA 291)

The legislation adds the following to the criteria a court must consider in making determinations to waive or designate a case: 1) The adequacy of rehabilitative services and the youth’s amenability to treatment; 2) The youth’s developmental maturity, mental and emotional health; 3) Culturally honoring traditions if the youth is a member of a Tribe; 4) The impact on the victim. The courts still have discretion when making waiver and designation decisions. View the full bill here: HB 4633 (PA 291)

Requiring Detention Screening Tools

HB 4629 (PA 290)

The legislation mandates using a detention screening tool to enhance decision-making regarding the placement of youth in secure detention. It requires jurisdictions to utilize a validated detention screening tool for informed decision-making on placing youth in secure detention. While the bill maintains local flexibility, courts must use the tool’s results to inform decisions. View the full bill here: HB 4629 (PA 290)

Expanding State Appellate Defender Office (SADO)

SB 425 (PA 299)

This legislation adds to the role of SADO to oversee the appellate defense system for juveniles—a member with the interests of youth to the Appellate Defender Commission. Additionally, the commission must keep a statewide roster of attorneys eligible for and willing to accept appointments to serve as appellate defense counsel for indigent youth. View the full bill here: SB 425 (PA 299)

Strengthening the Office of the Child Advocate

SB 432 (PA 303), SB 435 (PA 304), SB 436 (PA 305), HB 4639 (PA 294), HB 4640 (PA 295), HB 4643 (PA 296)

This legislation renames the Children’s Ombudsman Office to the Office of the Child Advocate. It also expands the powers and responsibilities of the Office to include residential facilities that provide juvenile justice services and are state-operated, county-operated, public, private and contracted, secure, or nonsecure. It contains stipulations surrounding informing youth and families about the role of the Office. View the full bills here: SB 432 (PA 303), SB 435 (PA 304), SB 436 (PA 305), HB 4639 (PA 294), HB 4640 (PA 295), HB 4643 (PA 296)

Please click here for a technical breakdown of each bill and its anticipated benefits.

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