LANSING, Mich. — Change to the Michigan’s criminal justice system could be coming after the state House approved their own package of bills aimed at changing the age someone can be tried as an adult for most crimes.
The Republican controlled House passed the package, known as Raise the Age, allowing 17-year-olds in Michigan to be tried as juveniles for most crimes. The bills are separate from the bills passed by the Michigan Senate on Wednesday. Currently, 17-year-olds are automatically charged as adults and Michigan is one of a handful of states in the country to do so.
The Senate and House both passed separate plans and each of the plans will have to go to the other chamber for consideration.
Michigan Department of Corrections Spokesperson Chris Gautz said the state currently has 26 inmates in the adult prison system under the age of 18.
“Not all of them are 17, some might be younger,” he said via email.
The proposal included language that allows prosecutors in each case to have discretion to opt for charging as an adult, it the offense was deemed serious enough. Research from the Prison Policy Initiative in 2018 said “of all incarcerated people, youth held with adults are at the highest risk of sexual abuse; they are also 36 times more likely to commit suicide than youth in juvenile facilities, and are at a greater risk of being held in solitary confinement than they would be in juvenile facilities.”
The Michigan League for Public Policy has long supported the plan and after the Republican-controlled Senate gave it the green light, Kids Count Program Director Alicia Guevara Warren said the vote was a step in the right direction.
“For years we have worked with a strong coalition, including the Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency, to make this happen, and with the help of key lawmakers, we’re getting close to seeing Raise the Age become law,” she said. April 25, 2019 – WWMT CBS TV (Kalamazoo)