The Ingham County Circuit Court is developing a new approach towards helping juvenile victims of human trafficking.
In most situations, the court has jurisdiction over a juvenile in cases of abuse at the hands of their parents, or if the juvenile is delinquent. But under a recent provision, Ingham County will now have jurisdiction over families whose children have been victims of human trafficking and are seeking help.
Ingham Circuit Judge Laura Baird will preside over the so-called “Phoenix Court.”
“So, we’re able to get the family involved in the court and provide services with court orders,” says Judge Baird. “That way, we aren’t criminalizing the child, but we’re also not charging the parents with abuse or neglect if they’re not abusive or neglectful.”
Ingham is only the second county in Michigan to use this technique for human trafficking victims. The court’s first session is scheduled for November 16.