Juvenile Justice Millage Set to be Renewed

Juvenile Justice Millage Set to be 

UPDATE: INGHAM COUNTY - The millage passed in the August 2016 primary election.

ORIGINAL STORY: INGHAM COUNTY - The Juvenile Justice Millage was originally approved by voters in 2002, and was formally renewed in 2006 and 2012.

According to the Ingham County Clerk's Office most of the funding goes to the family division of circuit court, and programs that are meant to help get youth back on the right track.

Voters weighed in about how they felt about their money going towards juvenile reform programs.

“Some of those structures we do not adequately deal with in the educational realm unfortunately we have to have these types of structures for juvenile justice. Anything that gives us those resources that help juveniles either rehabilitate and get back to where they should be is important,” said local voter, Kelly Britain.

When the millage was originally passed commissioners hired consultants to review the programs that the funding for the millage supports. In 2003 Dr. Edward Latessa from the University of Cincinnati was a vital piece in evaluating the Ingham County Juvenile Justice System. Through studying cognitive behavior he realized it was vital to change the way the juvenile thinks, with the approach ‘Think criminal, act criminal.’

Due to lack of funding most of the staff did not have formal training. “All staff is now required to be trained in cognitive behavior. As well as intensive training on assessments and interventions, while providing the juvenile with rational behavior therapy, and common sense therapy,” said Maureen Winslow, Deputy Court Administrator.

One of the major issues was also collecting recidivism data over a 6 month period, as well as the initial training of the treatment staff. 13 years later the recidivism rate of repeat offenses has been reduced by three percent.

The Ingham Academy is one of the many programs that the Juvenile Justice Millage supports. It serves as an alternative high school that serves as a day-treatment program.

“A lot of these kids thought they would never receive their high school diploma and since the academy has started 60 kids have graduated, it’s important to have someone in their corner,” said Winslow.

The renewal of this millage will include the continuing operation and enhancement of Ingham County's capacity to detain and house juveniles who are delinquent or disturbed.

“Depending upon the at-risk situation growing up I saw a lot of seemingly walls built up around me that there were gonna be barriers. I think showing that there are people that are willing to help and wanting to help breaks down those walls. It’s tough to see that path forward if people aren't showing you the way, ” said local voter, Rich Lund.

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