In News Releases

For Immediate Release
October 10, 2019

Contact:
Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org

517-487-5436

LANSING—The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on the Senate Judiciary Committee’s passage today of Raise the Age legislation to change Michigan’s age of juvenile court jurisdiction from 17 years old to 18. Right now, Michigan is one of only four states in the nation that still automatically treat all justice-involved 17-year-olds as adults, regardless of their offense. This puts these kids in danger physically, mentally and emotionally, and harms their educational, professional and financial opportunities.

The Michigan League for Public Policy began as the Michigan Conference of Charities and Corrections and has been working on children’s issues and corrections reform since 1912 (yes, really!). Raise the Age is a long-awaited change for Michigan kids and has been a big focus of the League and our Kids Count work, and we’re excited to see these bills getting closer to the finish line. The statement can be attributed to Michigan League for Public Policy President and CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs.

“Today’s action and the agreed-upon Raise the Age compromise is a tremendous win for Michigan kids and their families. We want to thank Senate Judiciary Chair Lucido and House Judiciary Chair Filler, Senate Majority Leader Shirkey and Speaker Chatfield and all of the bill sponsors for staying dedicated to this issue and being willing to negotiate and compromise to do what’s best for Michigan’s kids. By fixing this outdated and ineffective law, one of the very last of its kind in the country, policymakers can improve child well-being, kids’ academic and career opportunities, public safety, racial equity, the future of our local communities and economies, and more. Raise the Age is exactly the type of issue that all elected officials should be able to come together on, and we’re pleased to see lawmakers making that a reality today. We expect that bipartisan momentum to continue until these bills reach the governor’s desk, and we hope she will act quickly to sign them into law when they do.

“The compromise today did not end up addressing the broader question of where all juvenile offenders should be housed, regardless of their offense. We will keep advocating for that change in the future, and are confident legislators will be open to continuing that conversation.”

BACKGROUND:

Raise the Age- Key Points of Legislative Compromise:

The compromise on Raise the Age works out the differences between separate House and Senate passed packages from this spring and will:

  • Maintain current law regarding youth in adult facilities. Earlier discussions included a  proposal to remove all incarcerated youth from adult facilities, even if they had committed more violent or severe offenses.
  • Modify the funding language in the House package. The state will fund counties at 100% for all 17-year-olds instead of an earlier proposal for a 50%-50% funding split between counties and the state for justice-involved juveniles of all ages. The funding proposal will be reevaluated in three years.
  • House the Raise the Age Fund in the Department of Health and Human Services will instead of the State Court Administrative Office.

Raise the Age- What’s at Stake (See League Raise the Age Fact Sheet):

  • Youth incarcerated in adult facilities more likely to be physically attacked, sexually assaulted and attempt suicide than young people in the juvenile justice system.
  • Youth exiting the adult system are 34 percent more likely to reoffend, reoffend sooner, and escalate to more violent offenses than their counterparts in the juvenile justice system.
  • Kids in adult facilities are 26 percent less likely to graduate from high school.
  • Kids in adult facilities lose over 5 months of school on average each year.
  • Youth prosecuted as adults earn 40 percent less over their lifetime than youth in the juvenile justice system.
  • Adult convictions lead to lifelong barriers in housing, employment and education.
  • Kids of color are overrepresented. Despite making up only 23 percent of the total 17-year-old population, kids of color make up 53 percent of the 17-year-olds entering the state corrections system.
  • Juvenile courts offer highly effective diversion and community-based programs not accessible in adult court.
  • Because the majority of 17-year-olds have nonviolent charges, they would likely respond well to community-based options that are designed to keep kids in school, address underlying treatment needs and engage the whole family.

FOR ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND:

League Testimony on House Bills 4133-4146 (as introduced)

OpEd in Support of Raise the Age by Former Detroit Lion Anquan Boldin and Devin and Jason McCourty

League’s Raise the Age Page (Including a fact sheet and personal stories from parents and justice-involved youth.)

League Owner’s Manual Priority: Give Kids the Keys to a Strong Future

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The Kids Count in Michigan project is part of a broad national effort to improve conditions for children and their families. Funding for the project is provided by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, The Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation, The Skillman Foundation, Steelcase Foundation, Michigan Education Association, American Federation of Teachers Michigan, Ruth Mott Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, United Way for Southeastern Michigan, DTE Energy Foundation, Ford Motor Company Fund, and the Battle Creek Community Foundation. More state and local data are available at the Kids Count Data Center, www.datacenter.kidscount.org.

The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.mlpp.org, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.

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