State Demographics

In 1996, Michigan's youth population under age 18 was approximately 2,537,000 (Casey Foundation 1998).

Of the State's children, approximately 9 percent were living in families with incomes below 50 percent of the poverty level in 1995. Further, it is estimated that in 1995, approximately 18 percent of Michigan's children under age 13 were living in working-poor families or families where at least one parent was working 50 or more hours a week but the family's income was still below the poverty level (Casey Foundation 1998).

Michigan ranked 22nd in the country in terms of teen birth rate for 1995. This same year, the birth rate in the State was approximately 33 births per 1,000 young women ages 15-17. This was up from 30 births per 1,000 young women in 1985 (Casey Foundation 1998).

Overview of the Juvenile Justice System

All cases involving juvenile offenders are handled by the Michigan Family Court, Juvenile Division. Therefore, it is the Family Court Judge who determines the dispositional placements of juvenile offenders (Michigan Juvenile Justice Grant Unit 1994, p. 6).

The Office of Juvenile Justice (OJJ) is the State agency responsible for providing appropriate placements and services for juvenile offenders. To this end, the OJJ supports community-based programs and services in local jurisdictions. Further, the more populated counties in Michigan also have juvenile detention centers designed to temporarily hold juvenile offenders. The majority of these centers are operated by the court; however, they may also be manages by the county or the State (Michigan Juvenile Justice Grant Unit 1994, p. 4).

The Formula Grants Program for the State is housed within the Juvenile Justice Grant Unit of the Office of Juvenile Justice, Family Independence Agency.

Offense Patterns and Processing of Juvenile Female Offenders

The following statistics give an overview of the information available on female offending and processing patterns in Michigan:

  • In 1993, young women represented 25.7 percent (10,026) of all juvenile arrests. This was an increase from 23.7 percent (9,250) in 1992 and 24.4 percent in 1991 (Michigan Juvenile Justice Grant Unit 1994).

  • In 1993, 2 young women were arrested for murder, 13 for rape, 59 for robbery, and 280 for aggravated assault (Michigan Juvenile Justice Grant Unit 1994).

  • In 1992, young women represented 20 percent (3,189) of the youth admitted to detention and 14 percent (279) of the youth committed (Poe-Yamagata and Butts 1996, p. 19).

Approach to Female Offenders

Several years ago, the Michigan State Advisory Group (SAG) commissioned a study concerning the issue of minority overrepresentation in Michigan's juvenile justice system. This study, Disproportionate Representation in Juvenile Justice in Michigan: Examining the Influence of Race and Gender, identified areas in the State in which services to juvenile female offenders were not as well developed as those provided for male offenders (Michigan Juvenile Justice Grant Unit 1995, p. 1). Information from this study was, therefore, used to shape Michigan's response to the issue of providing adequate services for this population.

In 1996, the State used technical assistance from CRA through OJJDP to provide training for all potential grantees of Challenge Grant funds at a statewide gender-specific services training. Later that year, the Michigan SAG used funding obtained through OJJDP's Challenge Activity E program to fund the following efforts:

  • Bay County Female Program. This program is designed to serve young women ages 12-14 who are involved in the Bay County juvenile justice system. It provides a comprehensive program designed to address the mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical needs of this population.

  • Wedgwood Christian Youth and Family Services. This program is designed to promote and establish resiliency skills for young women. Particular emphasis is placed on social competence, problem solving, autonomy, and future planning.

The SAG also hopes to be able to provide funding to other agencies focusing on the unique needs of female juvenile offenders.


Annie E. Casey Foundation. 1998. KIDS COUNT Online Data Service. Annie E. Casey Foundation, Baltimore, MD.

Michigan Juvenile Justice Grant Unit, Office of Delinquency Services. 1994. Michigan Application for FY 1994 Funds. Submitted to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Washington, DC.

Michigan Juvenile Justice Grant Unit, Office of Delinquency Services. 1995. Michigan 1995 Challenge Activity E Grant Application. Submitted to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Washington, DC.

Michigan Juvenile Justice Grant Unit, Office of Delinquency Services. 1997. Michigan Gender-Specific Funding: Fact Sheets. Lansing, MI.

Poe-Yamagata, E., and J.A. Butts. 1996. Female Offenders in the Juvenile Justice System: Statistics Summary. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Washington, DC.

Juvenile Female Offenders: A Status of the States Report October 1998