Senate panel approves ‘Raise the Age’ legislation

LANSING, Mich. — The Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee approved a bipartisan plan to raise the age of legal adulthood within the state’s court system on Thursday.

The 14-bill plan seeks to establish 17-year-olds as minors in most instances, said Sen. Peter J. Lucido, R-Shelby Township, the committee chairman.

“This is a common-sense approach to dealing with youth crime,” Lucido said. “Diverting youth from the adult criminal justice system to help rehabilitate them through the juvenile justice system is the best option and a more effective way to treat young offenders.”

The 14-bill “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, and it would formally recognize that a 17-year-old should be considered a juvenile for purposes of adjudication or prosecution of criminal offenses. It would still allow for 17-year-olds to be treated as adults in violent criminal offenses.

Michigan is one of only four states that prosecute 17-year-olds as adults. Statistics show that states that have enacted similar raise-the-age laws have experienced a significant decrease in juvenile court referrals and recidivism.

Senate Bills 84 and 90-102 have been referred to the Senate floor for further consideration.

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Sen. Peter J. Lucido chairs a recent Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee hearing.