LANSING, Mich. — The Senate finalized a bipartisan plan on Wednesday to raise the age of legal adulthood within the state’s court system. The multi-bill plan would establish 17-year-olds as minors in most cases.
“This is a momentous day for our state,” said Sen. Peter J. Lucido, R-Shelby Township, who is an attorney and former probation officer. “After months of hard work and public input, today the Legislature acted to improve our criminal justice system by raising the age of legal adulthood.
“This long-overdue reform will ensure youth who are charged with criminal acts will, in most cases, be treated as the children they are. While they will still be held accountable for their actions, they also will have the opportunity to learn from their mistakes and have a better chance of becoming productive members of society.”
The “Raise the Age” plan would amend or add to various parts of the state’s Probate Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure, the Juvenile Diversion Act, the Youth Rehabilitation Act, the Mental Health Code, and the Indigent Defense Commission Act, to formally recognize that a 17-year-old should be considered a juvenile for purposes of adjudication or prosecution of criminal offenses. The reforms would still allow for 17-year-olds to be treated as adults in violent criminal offenses.
If signed, Michigan would join most other states in prosecuting 17-year-olds as youths. Statistics show that states that have enacted similar raise-the-age laws have experienced a significant decrease in juvenile court referrals and recidivism.
“I appreciate the broad support from my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and look forward to our Raise the Age plan becoming law soon,” Lucido said.
The bills now go to the governor for signature.