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New court rule affirms jails cannot hold youths and adults together

Michigan Radio

The Michigan Supreme Court has amended a court rule to say that juveniles and adults must be kept separated when they're held in jails and prisons.

The former rule was in conflict with state and federal laws that are supposed to help protect detained juveniles from rape and assault, including youths who are placed on a track to be tried as adults for crimes.

“We realized there was still this confusion over complying with federal and state law when it comes to the safety of children in prisons and jails,” said Dan Korobkin, the legal affairs director for the ACLU of Michigan. The ACLU requested the change, he said, “because of known data around the country that demonstrates that when you put children and adults together in detention and prison facilities that assaults, including sexual assaults, can occur.”

He said there’s at least one instance of a judge in Allegan County allowing a juvenile to be held in the same area as adults.

The rule takes effect right away while the Supreme Court accepts comments on it.

Korobkin said the ACLU has also asked the court to adopt a rule that says juveniles cannot be held in isolation because of the risk of psychological damage.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.