Media Contact

Ann Mullen, (313) 400-8562,  

December 11, 2023


LANSING, Mich. – Today, juvenile justice advocates shared an open letter with the Michigan Senate, calling on it to pass legislation that mandates legal representation for children entangled in the criminal legal system. Specifically, advocates urge the Senate to pass House Bill 4630, which would require the state to fund juvenile defense, as well as provide training for legal defenders, and oversight to ensure quality representation. This comes on the eve of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signing a package of 19 juvenile justice bills into law that the Legislature passed this fall.

The bill package is a result of the work of the Michigan Task Force on Juvenile Justice Reform, which issued a report last year, making more than 30 recommendations to improve the juvenile justice system. The Legislature responded with a 20-bill package that included HB 4630, and that the State House approved with a bipartisan vote of 85 to 25. However, the Senate did not advance the bill for a vote before going on break in November.

Advocates urge the Senate to prioritize HB 4630 when the legislative session resumes in January. Without the passage of this bill, Michigan will continue to fall short of its constitutional obligation to provide legal representation to children mired in the criminal legal system. HB 4630 would expand the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission (MIDC) to include quality legal defense for juveniles and other services as it currently does for adults.

HB 4630 is foundational to protecting the constitutional rights of all children caught up in the juvenile justice system, and a key component of the Task Force recommendations. The Senate must ensure the passage of this critical bill in the new year.

Juvenile justice advocates include: State Bar of Michigan, ACLU of Michigan, State Appellate Defender Office, The Gault Center, Michigan Center for Youth Justice, Safe and Just Michigan, Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan, Michigan Catholic Conference, Michigan League for Public Policy, Detroit Justice Center, Michigan Liberation, Michigan Collaborative to End Mass Incarceration, MOSES, and the Michigan Association of Treatment Court Professionals.