LANSING, Mich. — Juvenile offenders could have their records cleared if they complete the Youth ChalleNGe Program under legislation sponsored by Sen. John Proos.
“America is a nation of second chances, especially when it comes to young people making mistakes,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “This initiative would give our state’s troubled young people a chance to change the course of their lives, give back to the state through community service and avoid the scar of a criminal record that severely limits their ability to get into college or obtain a well-paying job.”
Senate Bill 471 would allow for a judge to expunge a juvenile offender for certain offenses if they complete the Youth ChalleNGe Program. Upon completion of the program, an individual would be given a certificate that would provide evidence that the applicant’s circumstances and behavior could warrant setting aside an adjudication at the discretion of the judge.
The Michigan Youth ChalleNGe Academy at Fort Custer in Battle Creek offers male and female high school dropouts or potential dropouts ages 16 to 18 the opportunity to change their lives and earn a high-school degree and college credits. The academy is a 17.5 month, two-phase program that incorporates eight core elements that encourage physical, mental and moral development.
“This is part of my continuing effort to redesign a more effective criminal justice system that is strict, yet fair in how it treats crimes committed by young people,” Proos said. “Not only could it give a teenager the ability to turn his life around, it could also help us reduce crime and prison costs.”
The next academy begins in July. To be eligible, applicants must not been convicted of a felony or be currently on parole or probation for anything other than juvenile-status offenses. Applicants also must be drug-free and will be tested.
There are no costs to participants or their families. The academy is administered by the Michigan National Guard and funded by the U.S. Department of Defense and the state of Michigan. For more information on the Michigan Youth ChalleNGe Academy, visit www.MIYCP.org.