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Grand Traverse, Leelanau County Family Courts Advocating for New Juvenile Facility

Administrators from Grand Traverse and Leelanau County Family Courts advocated for a new juvenile facility at the county commission meeting Wednesday morning.

Grand Traverse Undersheriff Mike Shea says “this is something that needs to be addressed. It’s a societal issue. It’s a community issue. And we need to face it. We need to fix it.”

“If you put kids in cold jail like facilities, it’s not conducive to rehabilitation” states Grand Traverse County Judge Jennifer Whitten.


Grand Traverse County and Leelanau County courts are hoping to build a 32 bed juvenile justice facility.

“The reason we want a facility that large is so that we could house our youth, but then also provide bed space for others. And that would help financially, basically run the facility if we had a smaller 12 bed facility or something like that and might not be as feasible economically,” Whitten says.

They are now working on collecting more information to see how beneficial a facility like this would be to the surrounding counties.

“We’ve reached out to all local judges in surrounding area to do a poll of what their need is. So we’re looking to kind of gather that data. But I can tell you, every judge we’ve talked to locally has said they have children who they will send to this facility and that will help fund this facility,” says Judge Whitten.


The design of this new facility is still being figured out but they are looking at the design of other facilities in the state.

“We visited the Genesee county building, they were actually they almost look like garage doors where they could sectioned off different areas. So we needed more for treatment and less for detention, maybe more for female, less for male. You could do that,” one of the administrators says.

The big hurdle is funding. It has yet to be found for the potential project.

“We’re hoping that we could get state funds to construct the facility and enlisting support from associations like the tribe, the Michigan association of family court administrators, Michigan sheriffs association,” Judge Whitten comments.