SBM urges action on juvenile justice reform bills

The State Bar of Michigan is leading a coalition of 13 organizations that are coming together to urge the state Senate to vote on House Bill 4630, which would ensure that all young people in the juvenile justice system have access to an attorney, as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

The effort to expand the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission to include juveniles was among a package of reforms heralded by the coalition as a “historic leap forward for juvenile justice in Michigan.”

Other parts of the package were signed recently by Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II. However, the Senate failed to take action on HB 4630, which was approved by the House with a bipartisan 85-25 vote.

In a joint letter dated December 11, the coalition urged the Senate to vote on the bill — a cornerstone recommendation of the Michigan Task Force on Juvenile Justice Reform — when it returns to session in January.

“All Michigan residents have a constitutional right to effective legal representation,” said State bar of Michigan President Daniel D. Quick, “but our young people are being left to navigate the juvenile justice system with woefully inadequate legal representation, or no representation at all.

“This bill would allow the MIDC to set minimum standards and was a key part of the comprehensive, data-driven recommendations of the Task Force on Juvenile Justice Reform.”

The letter applauded the signing of the other 19 bills, but stated, “the State Senate’s work remains unfinished,” regarding House Bill 4630.

The coalition of organizations that signed the letter to the Senate included:

• ACLU of Michigan
• Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan
• Detroit Justice Center
• The Gault Center
• Michigan Catholic Conference
• Michigan Center for Youth Justice
• Michigan Collaborative to End Mass Incarceration
• Michigan League for Public Policy
• Michigan Liberation
• Safe and Just Michigan
• State Appellate Defender Office
• State Bar of Michigan