From the Desk of the Osceola County Prosecutor

March 16, 2017

We have experienced an increasing number of crimes being committed by juveniles (individuals under the age of 18) in the Marion area of late. This is yet another example of the huge increase in the number of crimes being committed by juveniles nationwide.

Osceola County Prosecutor, Anthony Badovinac

Osceola County Prosecutor, Anthony Badovinac

The use of illegal substances by juveniles is also on the rise and continues to result in criminal convictions for many juveniles. The problem of course, is the record of a juvenile conviction follows that person throughout their life and can severely hamper their chances of securing employment later on in life.

Because of that, there is a trend by lawmakers of softening the laws and penalties which apply to juveniles.

The Minor In Possession laws have softened considerably and now allow a juvenile to be found guilty of a civil fraction instead of a misdemeanor for a first offense of being a minor in possession of alcohol. Any juvenile convicted of being a minor in possession is also given the opportunity to engage in substance abuse treatment and community service work instead of fines and costs.

It has been a long-held rule that any juvenile who is convicted of first degree murder in Michigan had to receive a life sentence in prison without the possibility of parole. That rule was just recently changed and now any juvenile who was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole is afforded a chance to be re-sentenced and the court can give that individual whatever sentence it deems fit. This law is also partially in response to a softening in the perception of juveniles and their propensity to get into trouble with the law.

Some of the statistics involving juveniles and their trouble with the law is interesting;

There are 2.2 million people in the nation’s prisons and jails—a 500% increase over the last 40 years. In fact the United States the highest rate of incarceration of any country in the world.

There are currently 2,500 people serving life sentences for juvenile convictions.

Often the home life of a juvenile has a huge impact on if that child will end up in jail or prison.

79% witnessed violence in their homes regularly

32% grew up in public housing

40% had been enrolled in special education classes

Fewer than half were attending school at the time of their offense

47% were physically abused

80% of girls reported histories of physical abuse and 77% of girls reported histories of sexual abuse
The costs of maintaining a juvenile in prison for their lifetime is staggering;

The financial cost of a juvenile sentenced to life in prison without parole (JLWOP) is significant. A life sentence issued to a juvenile is designed to last longer than a life sentence issued to an older defendant.

Housing juveniles for a life sentence requires decades of public expenditures. Nationally, it costs $34,135 per year to house an average prisoner. This cost roughly doubles when that prisoner is over 50.  Therefore, a 50-year sentence for a 16-year old will cost approximately $2.25 million.* (all statistical facts provided by, The Sentencing Project)

It is no wonder that attempts are being made to keep juveniles out of our prisons. As a prosecutor and lawyer, I often see the damage done to juveniles, their families and society by juveniles who have no respect for the law. The best way for us to treat this problem is by education and it needs to start in the home and be reinforced by the churches and schools.

Neighbors likewise need to keep a close watch on things and look out for one another. It is far easier to treat the cause of a problem up front rather than the symptoms of a chronic disease throughout the rest of one’s life. This is perhaps one of the trends in the law which actually makes (cents) we will see what the future brings us.
All The Best,
Anthony Badovinac

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