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Tue September 22, 2009
Advocates call for juvenile justice reform
By Kevin Lavery, WKAR News
Lansing, MI – Criminal justice advocates are calling on state lawmakers to pass reform legislation they say will treat juvenile offenders more fairly.
Michigan first developed its juvenile justice system a century ago, at a time when advocates say the courts recognized the developmental differences between children and adults.
But since the advent of tougher anti-crime policies in the 1990's, convicted juveniles are often sent to adult facilities without receiving competency hearings.
Elizabeth Arnovits is executive director of the Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency.
"As the law becomes more punitive, as the court changes from one of helping to one of trying, I think it's more and more important that we be able to assess kids' culpability and competency," Arnovits says.
The House Judiciary Committee is considering bills that would reform competency hearings. Chairman Mark Meadows says the committee will advance the package before the end of this session.