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Black voters in battleground states are a crucial voting bloc in 2024; Nikki Haley says she's voting for Trump in November; healthcare advocates suggest medical collaboration to treat fibroids; distinct vibes at IU Indianapolis pro-Palestinian protest.

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The House GOP moves to strike mention of Trump's criminal trial from the record, and his former rival Nikki Haley endorses him. Meanwhile, Ohio Republicans reject a legislative fix to ensure Biden's name appears on the November ballot.

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Smokey Bear thought only "you" could prevent forest fires, but mushrooms may also help, a Native American community in Oregon is achieving healthcare sovereignty, and Colorado farmers hope fast-maturing, drought-tolerant seeds will better handle climate change.

Michigan's youth justice reforms: Expanded diversion, no fees

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Thursday, March 28, 2024   

Michigan recently implemented a significant juvenile justice reform package following recommendations from a task force made up of prosecutors, sheriffs, judges and child advocates.

The reforms expand diversion eligibility, allocate state funds for programs, limit diversion periods to three months, and eliminate fines and fees.

Jason Smith, executive director of the Michigan Center for Youth Justice, emphasized the shift toward rehabilitation, community-based alternatives, standardized policies, risk assessments and the removal of fines and fees in the system. He said the new system is much more comprehensive.

"If you don't serve a 10-year-old in the juvenile-justice system, which we believe you shouldn't, what do you do with them?" Smith asked. "If they need services, what happens? What we will see over the next couple of years with the expansion of diversion and community-based options will answer those questions."

The major reform involved changing the child care fund reimbursement model to incentivize local jurisdictions to invest more in community-based services.

Richard A. Mendel, senior research fellow for youth justice at The Sentencing Project and author of a report on the topic, said not only does the Michigan package eliminate most fees and minimize costs which would have previously gone to youths or their parents and the counties serving them, but overall diversion programs save money.

"Diversion tends to be cheaper," Mendel pointed out. "It's not a new cost, it's a net savings, even in the short term. And it's especially in this savings financially in the long term because these young people are much less likely to come back."

Smith added the state can serve 10 kids with high-quality services in the community for the price of one leaving residential placement.


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