Rep. Hauck: ‘Raise the Age’ reforms would help put teens on the right path
LANSING, Mich. — State Rep. Roger Hauck testified before the House Judiciary Committee today in support of his plan to improve the way 17-year-olds are treated in Michigan’s criminal justice system.
Hauck, who sponsored the plan alongside a bipartisan group of his colleagues, said Michigan is one of just four states still requiring all 17-year-olds to be prosecuted as adults – even those who commit the most minor offenses. He said eliminating this outdated practice will help rehabilitate young offenders and reduce the likelihood of them breaking the law again in the future.
“Michigan began charging 17-year-olds as adults in 1912, the year the Titanic sank. I think we can all agree that a lot has changed since then, especially our knowledge of human development and behavior,” said Hauck, of Union Township. “The bottom line is, sending 17-year-olds into the adult prison system is harmful. Giving them access to age-appropriate rehabilitation services is safer and more constructive.”
The proposal would raise the age at which individuals are considered adults for the purposes of prosecuting and adjudicating criminal offenses, allowing 17-year-olds to be treated as minors within the juvenile system in most circumstances. Prosecutors will continue to have some discretion, allowing them to waive minors who commit violent crimes into the adult system when appropriate.
The plan also establishes a funding mechanism to help local counties deal with the initial costs from the uptick of juvenile offenders in the system.
“In the long run, the state will save taxpayer dollars under this policy,” Hauck said. “It just makes sense to invest some of those savings into the juvenile system up front.”
Including 17-year-olds in the juvenile system has been shown to reduce reoffending by 34 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
“Countless studies have shown that putting juveniles in adult prison increases the odds they will break the law again in the future,” Hauck said. “We will save public tax dollars and produce better outcomes by raising the age for juvenile justice in Michigan.”
House Bills 4133-46 remain under consideration by the House Judiciary Committee.