The new report of the Michigan Task Force on Juvenile Justice offers promise for improvements to the juvenile justice system and better outcomes for youth, PPA’s Director for Justice Policy Robert Burroughs says. Mr. Burroughs participated on the task force’s data workgroup.
The Task Force, created by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in 2021, released its report in July. Some of its recommendations include expanding diversion opportunities when youth are not a public safety risk; improving the juvenile public defense system; and enhancing data collection to measure performance, outcomes, and equity.
Mr. Burroughs said the task force’s comprehensive approach to assessing juvenile justice in Michigan resulted in recommendations aimed at improving the system overall. In addition, the focus on improved data collection is important for aligning policies and practices with what works to improve outcomes.
“At a statewide level, we still lack reliable data about the youth involved with the juvenile justice system and what happens to them once they enter the system,” Mr. Burroughs said. “If we better understand how kids are moving through the system, we can design interventions that better target identified needs and measure the impact of those interventions on youth, families, and communities.”
PPA has been working in partnership with the Michigan Public Health Institute and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to monitor compliance with federal laws regarding safe treatment of youth. PPA also collects and analyzes data on racial and ethnic disparities in the juvenile justice system.