From 2003 to 2013, Michigan prosecuted over 20,000 juvenile offenders as adults. Advocates for juvenile justice reform say youth housed in adult prisons are at a much greater risk for sexual abuse and suicide than the adult prison population. And while there is now a sight and sound barrier between juvenile offenders and the adult prison population, that wasn’t always the case. The state is now facing allegations from seven former juvenile offenders that they were sexually abused by both other prisoners and prison staff while housed in those facilities.
In a recent op-ed, Republican State Representative Joe Haveman of Holland describes coming to Lansing five years ago to advance principles of limited government and restrained spending. He goes on to describe how his commitment to those principles unexpectedly led him to advocate reforms to Michigan’s $2 billion a year correctional system.
“Michigan’s outdated approach to youth justice does little to rehabilitate children, protect public safety or wisely invest taxpayer dollars.” This quote is among the provocative conclusions of a new report, co-authored by Michelle Weemhoff and her organization the Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency.
A host of challenges associated with Michigan’s prison system make corrections one of the state’s biggest and most persistent issues. No discussion of Michigan corrections lasts long without the topic of its dollar cost coming up.