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Republican lawmaker aims to reopen Michigan juvenile justice facility

my_southborough / flickr creative commons / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

State Rep. Martin Howrylak, R-Troy, has introduced a bill that would reopen the W.J. Maxey Boys Training School in Whitmore Lake.

The juvenile justice facility closed Sept. 30 after being removed from the state's budget in June.

The 60-bed facility treated youth offenders, ages 12-21, with mental illnesses.

Overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services, the Maxey School was one of three remaining state-run juvenile facilities.

The Bay Pines Center in the Upper Peninsula and the Shawono Center in Grayling absorbed some youth displaced by the closure. Some also went to private facilities.

At the time, supporters of the closure said Maxey was more expensive than other juvenile-justice facilities, both state-run and private.

The cost of running the facility is approximately $10 million, according to Howrylak.

"The cost to rehabilitate a juvenile offender with mental health problems is understandably quite expensive, because you're looking at very intense services. And  it's going to be expensive whether the state does it or somebody else does it," Howrylak said.

Howrylak says Maxey was a last option for many of the youth housed there.

"When you deal with a population that is suffering from mental illness, especially who are youth, you have that opportunity to save them," he said.

The bill is currently in the House Appropriations Committee. An identical bill will be introduced in the Senate.

- Paulette Parker, Michigan Radio Newsroom

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