Funding OK’d to Address Juvenile Crime

An increase in violent crime committed by teens in Washtenaw County has spurred the need for additional funding from the county’s Child Care Fund. At its July 9, 2014 meeting, the county board of commissioners voted to authorize using $642,707 from the Child Care Fund balance to pay for a range of services overseen by the county’s dept. of human services.

Linda Edwards-Brown, the county’s juvenile court administrator, told commissioners that there’s been an increase in young men “terrorizing” their communities. The sheriff’s office and court had started working together several months ago after they began observing an increase in gang-type activity, she said, including home invasions, firearm larceny, and assaulting police officers. They’d been hopeful that they could stem the tide of violence, she added, but it has escalated with a recent death in Ypsilanti.

So the sheriff’s office and court officials have reached consensus to remove some of these young men from the community and put them into residential facilities in other parts of the state, Edwards-Brown said. The juvenile division of the Washtenaw County trial court will place at least six youth in residential facilities this month, in addition to six youth who are currently in residential placements. According to a staff memo, residential placements are costly, with a typical length of stay at nine to twelve months.

In addition, detention beds in the county’s children’s services facility have been occupied at or near capacity for all of 2014, which has resulted in the need for part-time temporary staff as well as overtime pay.

The use of $642,707 will drop the Child Care Fund balance from $1,041,882 to $399,175.

At the July 9 meeting, commissioners and staff expressed the need to continue working on this issue as a community-wide effort.

This brief was filed from the county administration building at 220 N. Main. in Ann Arbor. A more detailed report will follow: [link]