Justice

Many Michigan juveniles locked up for non-crimes

Michigan's archaic and ineffectual juvenile justice system regularly locks up minors for infractions as simple as not doing their homework.

In June, a 15-year-old from Beverly Hills – near Detroit – was locked up in a juvenile detention center. Her crime? Failing to do her homework.

Michigan’s juvenile justice system is full of stories just like hers, according to an investigation by ProPublica. It shows a system that is fragmented and archaic, with record-keeping so lax that officials can’t say how many children it has locked up at any given time.

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So-called “technical violations” include things like truancy, failing to take medication, or disobeying parents. The investigation found that minors all over Michigan are routinely locked up for such infractions despite not having committed actual crimes.

Official data is not recorded by the state, but a review of federal data from 2017 showed that about 30% of youth locked in juvenile facilities at the time were there due to noncriminal offenses.

Michigan ranks fourth in the nation – behind California, Texas, and Florida – for the number of minors locked up for technical violations. That’s despite many national juvenile justice groups advising that such policies are outdated and harmful to kids.

You can read the full story on Bridge Michigan.

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