Dear Friends & Supporters,

 

Last year was an incredibly important one for our organization, as we transitioned from the

Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency

to the

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Vision: a fair and effective justice system for Michigan's children, youth and young adults.

 

Mission: We work to advance policies and practices that reduce confinement and support trauma-informed, racially equitable, socio-economically and culturally responsive, community-based solutions for Michigan’s justice-involved children, youth and young adults.

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Dear Friends and Supporters,

 

Last year was an incredibly important one for our organization, as we transitioned from the Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency to the Michigan Center for Youth Justice (MCYJ). We began 2020 with our new name, vision, and mission, all of which align with our focus exclusively on Michigan's juvenile justice system, and the youth and families who interact with it. 

 

Like many other organizations, we shifted to a remote work environment at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. But despite the inherent challenges of the pandemic, we accomplished a great deal in 2020. We successfully advanced legislative priorities while continuing to support youth justice reform happening within communities. We continued to provide public education on how the youth justice system works as well as opportunities for reform. We also called for statewide policy changes as a result of several high-profile incidents and responded to the pandemic by reaching out to the governor and other state officials in an effort to protect the health and safety of youth in confinement.

 

Lastly, as 2020 came to a close, MCYJ underwent a leadership transition as our executive director of many years, Mary King, retired. I was honored to step into the role of executive director and lead MCYJ, building on our organization’s long history of advocating for a fair and effective justice system.

 

Thank you, as partners and supporters, for making our work possible. We are excited to have a new name and vision that reflects a cultural perspective supporting second chances for young people. At MCYJ, we firmly believe that kids who get in trouble are still kids

 

Respectfully,

 

Jason Smith

In 2020 We Worked to:

  • Reduce youth justice involvement; 

  • Promote the use of diversion; 

  • Assure equal access to justice in the courts; 

  • Expand community-based services for justice-involved youth; 

  • Improve safety in juvenile residential/detention facilities; and, 

  • Increase youth record confidentiality and engagement. 

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MCYJ is committed to supporting the successful implementation of the Raise the Age law in 2021 by advocating for adequate funding to support the change in the next state budget.

Advocacy: Raise The Age

After the Raise the Age legislation's successful passage in 2019, MCYJ has continued to stay engaged in state policy by participating in implementation workgroup meetings hosted by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Local jurisdictions have been preparing for law changes with an effective date of October 1, 2021, and DHHS has held meetings with juvenile court stakeholders and MCYJ to explore the ways in which the state can support implementation efforts with increased training and resources, and any outstanding issues can be addressed.

 

01- Community and Connection

Core Value:

Youth deserve to remain connected to their families and communities, even if they become justice system-involved. They should be recognized for their strengths and value, not just for their mistakes.

 
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Our Response to COVID-19

At the start of the pandemic, MCYJ turned its focus to COVID-19 and its impact on Michigan’s justice-involved youth. We sent letters to the governor and other elected officials, as well as to judges and youth justice stakeholders, to recommend increased safety and protection measures for youth to reduce the risk of exposure.

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02 - Effectiveness

Core Value:

We are results-driven and work with integrity. We can be counted on to deliver fair, equitable justice reform for Michigan’s children, youth and young adults.

ENGAGEMENT

Training


In June, MCYJ hosted its first-ever virtual professional development training, titled Working Effectively with Justice-Impacted Youth: Building Cultural Competency Through a Trauma Lens.

 

This two-day training event provided participants with an opportunity to learn from, and problem-solve with, local experts, who offered successful strategies for youth engagement. The 17 registrants who attended also heard directly from adults who had been impacted by the system. Continuing Education Units (CEU) were offered to licensed social workers, as a part of our ongoing collaboration with the National Association of Social Workers Michigan (NASW-MI).
 

ENGAGEMENT 

Juvenile Justice 101  


MYCJ also hosted a virtual town hall focused on Michigan’s juvenile justice system’s response to the COVID-19. This event, structured as a panel discussion moderated by Jason Smith, included: Elizabeth T. Clement, Michigan Supreme Court justice; Thom Lattig, Juvenile Court director (20th Circuit Court), and Terri Gilbert, MSW, juvenile justice projects manager at the WSU Center for Behavioral Health & Justice.


Topics covered included the Supreme Court’s perspective on the juvenile justice system’s response to the pandemic, the juvenile court’s response to the virus, and the opportunities for continued reform after the pandemic ends, such as the continued reduction of youth in facilities, addressing issues such as racial disparities, and making sure the system is effective and fair overall. Roughly 80 people viewed this event.

MCYJ’s Jason Smith hosted a Juvenile Justice 101 webinar that offered an overview of Michigan’s youth justice system and highlighted both current issues and opportunities for reform. Fifty people attended this free, virtual event.

ENGAGEMENT 

Virtual Town Hall

 

MCYJ’s Jason Smith hosted a Juvenile Justice 101 webinar that offered an overview of Michigan’s youth justice system, and highlighted both current issues and opportunities for reform. Fifty people attended this free, virtual event.

MYCJ also hosted a virtual town hall focused on Michigan’s juvenile justice system’s response to the COVID-19. This event, structured as a panel discussion moderated by Jason Smith, included: Elizabeth T. Clement, Michigan Supreme Court justice; Thom Lattig, Juvenile Court director (20th Circuit Court), and Terri Gilbert, MSW, juvenile justice projects manager at the WSU Center for Behavioral Health & Justice.


Topics covered included the Supreme Court’s perspective on the juvenile justice system’s response to the pandemic, the juvenile court’s response to the virus, and the opportunities for continued reform after the pandemic ends, such as the continued reduction of youth in facilities, addressing issues such as racial disparities, and making sure the system is effective and fair overall. Roughly 80 people viewed this event.

03- Effectiveness

Core Value:

We are results-driven and work with integrity. We can be counted on to deliver fair, equitable justice reform for Michigan’s children, youth and young adults.

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Youth Action Month:
Kalamazoo Youth Candidate Forum


October is recognized nationally as Youth Justice Awareness/Action Month (YJAM). Governor Whitmer issued a proclamation declaring October as Youth Justice Action Month in Michigan, joining the national movement.

 

This year, YJAM occurred during election season. To celebrate, MCYJ co-hosted a youth-led candidate forum for Kalamazoo residents. Youth were able to ask questions directly to candidates and get answers to issues that are relevant to them. Topics discussed included youth justice, mental health, COVID-19 safety in schools, the wealth gap, environmental protections, gun violence, decriminalizing schools (removal of school resource officers) and disparities in incarceration.

 

Candidates included Kalamazoo County Commissioners Christine Morse, Stephanie Moore and Julie Rogers, who were all running for the Michigan House of Representatives, as well as State Representative Jon Hoadley, who was running for the U.S. House of Representatives.
 

04 - Inclusion

Core Value:

People who are impacted by a problem should be at the center of our advocacy. We believe in creating a big tent. Nonpartisanship and divergent perspectives create better solutions.

 
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GivingTuesday NOW:
Virtual Coffee Hour

GivingTuesday NOW was launched as an emergency global response to the COVID-19 crisis. MCYJ participated in the day-long virtual fundraising event to raise awareness about how the pandemic has impacted nonprofits, including ours. In tandem with Giving Tuesday Now (via social media), MCYJ hosted a Zoom coffee hour with Executive Director Mary King, who gave an overview of our history, strategic rebrand and refocus, and an overview of our priorities. Mary specifically addressed the work we were doing to support and protect justice-impacted youth, a high-risk population, from exposure to the virus. This informal meeting with our community of supporters created a unique space for folks to personally share about their current challenges as well as sources of strength

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For GivingTuesday in November 2020, MCYJ elected to give back (to youth) with our annual holiday card-writing event, Cards & Community. With the help of 36 volunteers and a cheerful Zoom room, MCYJ was able to send cards to 425 youth in fifteen Michigan child welfare and juvenile justice residential facilities. In addition to the card-writing, the event featured a game of youth justice trivia, holiday music, and an opportunity for shared gratitude.

 

Giving Tuesday has become a global day for donating time, money, and ideas, as well as sharing, among our personal and professional networks, about the organizations and causes we care most about. This friendraising event was a great success, with the added bonus of over $3,400 in donations!
 

GivingTuesday:
Cards & Community

 

05 - Possibility

Core Value:

Every problem has a solution if we work together, think outside the box, and are willing to try new things.

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Facilitation

MI-CEMI

Through 2020, MCYJ continued to serve as a fiduciary to the Michigan Collaborative to End Mass Incarceration (MI-CEMI), which, throughout the year, convened monthly Steering Team meetings; built trust across stakeholder organizations; engaged with general membership through an annual meeting, webinars, and roundtables; encouraged action through social media; and developed a system for more actively engaging members who are currently incarcerated.

 

MI-CEMI Steering Team members prioritized four campaigns in 2020. Each campaign was coordinated across organizations through a designated workgroup led by at least one member of the Steering Team. And each of the campaigns resulted in forward movement or legislative success. The campaigns included:

  • Support for Incarcerated Caregivers: SB 830 and 831 were introduced.

  • Pretrial Reform: All task force recommendations were turned into bills, and the majority of those were passed and signed into law.

  • Prosecutorial Reform: Election of three new prosecutors who are committed to reforms, in Washtenaw, Oakland and Macomb counties.

  • Sex Offender Registration Act: A revised bill, passed in December 2020, that retained many of the unconstitutional provisions in the Michigan Sex Offender Registration Act, but also removed the residency, work and loiter restrictions that kept many people on the registry from securing housing and employment.

In October 2020, in collaboration with the Berrien County Trial Court, Mary King of MCYJ facilitated a Youth Justice Forum with the goal of identifying assets, gaps and solutions in four target areas involving at-risk youth in the Berrien County community--School/Justice Partnership, Pre-Arrest Diversion, Behavioral Health and Parental Engagement--and the creation of a specific plan to implement the top recommended solutions. The forum brought together community members from law enforcement agencies, schools, the state Department of Health and Human Services, community mental health agencies, the Berrien County Trial Court, community policy leaders and private provider service agencies

BERRIEN COUNTY COMMUNITY FORUM 

 

06 - Restoration

Core Value:

The youth justice system should be restorative and rehabilitative. Kids who get in trouble are still kids.

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Virtual Community Gala

FUNDRAISING:

In lieu of an in-person fundraising banquet, MCYJ held its first-ever virtual gala on October 22, hosted by Mary King and Jason Smith. We lined up a wonderful slate of speakers and entertainers for the event, including Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist II, Chief Justice Bridget McCormack (our keynote speaker), young poets from InsideOut Literary Arts Project of Detroit, a spoken word artist, and Thornetta Davis, Detroit's Queen of the Blues. Throughout the gala, youth justice advocates from across the state and country came on screen to express their support for MCYJ and youth justice reform. MCYJ raised more than $15,000 in ticket sales and donations from this novel fundraising event, which approximately 75 people attended.

 

Our Board of Directors

Hazelette Crosby-Robinson, MSW – President

Retired, Washtenaw County Community
Health Board and Returning Citizen

Michelle Rowser – Vice President

CEO, Starr Vista

Eric Sturk, CPA – Secretary

Roy, Noye & Associates

Ronald Simpson-Bey – Treasurer

Just Leadership USA, Returning Citizen

John Broad

Retired, President, Crime Stoppers of Michigan

Melanca Clark

President and CEO of Hudson-Webber Foundation

Linda Edwards-Brown

Retired, Washtenaw County Juvenile Court Administrator

Paul Elam, Ph.D.

Chief Strategy Officer, Michigan Public Health Institute

Melissa Fernandez
Executive Director of Spectrum Health Services, Inc.
 
Image by Timothy Hales Bennett

Social Media

MCYJ’s social media platforms were a great asset to promote our 2020 rebrand and refocus. Our goals were to maintain a steady presence online; to keep the community informed of advocacy campaigns, priority projects and events, and to participate in online efforts with our partners and other youth justice organizations to continue to educate and empower the widespread youth justice advocate community. This year saw a notable increase in followers and engagement across all social media platforms. MCJY’s Facebook ended the year at nearly 1450 followers, which was up 400 from the previous year. Our Twitter account saw an increase of 300 followers, ending the year at 1100 followers, as well as a remarkable increase in Tweet engagement (total impressions for 2020 amounted to 391,815). We created an Instagram account in 2020, which started slow but slowly grew to 350 followers by the end of the year. Overall, social media proved to be a remarkable way to educate, interact and connect with new and long-time supporters

Our 2020 Staff

Mary King, Executive Director

Jason Smith, Director of Youth Justice Policy

David Rosen, Director of Development
Heidi Frankenhauser, Operations Manager

Gabrielle French, Policy Associate

Afaf Humayun, Administrative Associate