December 9, 2019, Canton, MI – The Canton Police Department, working in conjunction with Growth Works and the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, has implemented a new Juvenile Diversion Program. The one- year “pilot” program began on October 1, 2019, and is already off to a positive start with 27 individuals participating in the alternative intervention system.
Canton’s Juvenile Diversion Program was developed around the State of Michigan’s Act 13 of 1988, with the intent to improve patterns of juvenile behavior through alternatives outside of the criminal justice system while maintaining the community standards and expectations of the involved victims and or complaining parties.
Juveniles who commit one of the below listed misdemeanor offenses are referred to the program:
• Status Offenses (Possession of Marijuana/Alcohol/Tobacco/Vape)
• Simple Assault
• Disorderly Conduct
• Communicating Threats
• Undisciplined Juvenile (Habitual Runaway/Truancy/Curfew Violations)
• Damage to Property
All juvenile offenders are originally considered for the program unless one of the following disqualifiers applies:
• The juvenile has a prior arrest history
• The offense is a felony
• The offender lives outside of Wayne County
• The victim makes a request for restitution to be paid
• The victim makes a request for the offender to be criminally prosecuted
• The parent/guardian of the offender refuses their minor child to participate in the program
Qualified juveniles are referred to Growth Works where staff establish a customized 12-week course of action for the offender within the parameters established by the program, and based on the offense, history of the juvenile, needs of the juvenile, etc. The goal is to utilize counseling and criteria to curb and correct the minor’s behavior without attaching legal ramifications. Parent/guardian participation is also a requirement of the program, allowing them to participate in the opportunity for their child to grow and learn from the experience.
“When juveniles engage in risky behaviors and make bad decisions, this Juvenile Diversion Program will provide a restorative justice model with rigorous oversight, while reducing dependence on the traditional juvenile justice process for minor offenses,” said Chad Baugh, Deputy Director of Police.
Diversion records for participants who successfully complete the program are sealed and shall only be opened by order of the court. The juvenile’s records kept under this act shall be destroyed within 28 days after the minor becomes 17 years of age. Diversion participants who do not successfully complete the requirements of the program established with Growth Works will have their misdemeanor case re-opened by the police department, and any appropriate course of action will follow which may include the issuance of a citation or petition to court.
Included in the development of the program was an Oversight and Review Panel that will focus on the program’s conformity to community standards, equality of opportunity for juveniles, and policy compliance. The review panel will meet every six-months and will provide feedback and recommendations at the one-year mark.
“I’m eager to see how this innovative pilot program will benefit the community, and the potential positive-impact it may have on the juvenile participants,” said Joshua Meier, Director of Public Safety.