Senate approves Proos’ Youth ChalleNGe initiative

Senator John Proos

Senator John Proos

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate has approved Sen. John Proos’ legislation to allow juvenile offenders to have their records cleared if they complete the Youth ChalleNGe Program.

“This is about giving young people a second chance,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “People make mistakes, especially young people. Too often juvenile mistakes result in a criminal record that severely limits their opportunities for success later in life.

“The goal of this initiative is to provide young people with a chance to change the course of their lives and give back to the state through service.”

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.

“Helping turn around young offenders from a life of crime and incarceration is a critical part of creating a smarter, fairer and more effective criminal justice system in Michigan,” Proos said. “My legislation could give teenagers the ability to change the direction of their lives, while also helping us reduce crime and prison costs.”

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.

SB 471 has been sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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