Bipartisan legislation has been announced to permit 17-year-olds to be processed in Michigan's juvenile courts, rather than automatically prosecuted as adults. 

Michigan is one of only nine states that continue to automatically treat 17-year-olds as adults in the criminal justice system.  In the past decade, more than 20,000 youth under 18 have been convicted as adults, mostly for non-violent offenses with no prior juvenile record, according to research by the Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency (MCCD).

The Michigan Committee on Juvenile Justice supports raising the age for automatic adult prosecution to age 18.

Other bills in the package would eliminate certain offenses that lead to automatic adult prosecution, including running away from a juvenile facility.

According to the MCCD, 70% of the 17-year-olds come from 10 counties.  Those counties all have strong juvenile justice services such as diversion and community-based programming that are better suited to rehabilitating youth, said Kristen Staley, associate director of the MCCD.

Other parts of the package include:

  • Increasing the County Child Care Fund reimbursement rate for community-based services by 25%.
  • Prohibiting the placement of youth under 18 in adult jails and prisons:
  • Requiring public monitoring and oversight of youth under the jurisdiction of the Michigan Department of Corrections who are serving sentences for crimes committed before turning 18 years old.

You can find the MCCD's press release here.

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