Oakland County Board of Commissioners voice support for Raise the Age legislation
Nine Oakland County commissioners have signed a resolution in support of legislation seeking to raise the age at which someone can be tried and prosecuted as an adult in Michigan.
In February, Senate bills 92, 95, and 102 were introduced that would raise the minimum age from 17 to 18. The legislation is part of a larger ‘Raise the Age’ bill package, supported by both Republicans and Democrats, that also aims to prohibit people under age 18 from being placed in adult prisons and jails.
All three of those bills are currently set for a hearing during the 8:30 a.m. Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee meeting on Thursday in Lansing.
Under current Michigan law, 17-year-olds are automatically prosecuted as adults if they get in trouble with the law, even for non-violent offenses. Michigan is one of four states that automatically prosecutes 17-year-olds as adults.
Lawmakers seeking to raise age at which Michiganders are tried as adults
The resolution supports the package of Senate bills and was sponsored by County Commissioner Helaine Zack, D-Huntington Woods. It's currently going through the board committee process with full board approval expected on April 18.
"It's an important issue that I've been looking at for a couple years," said Zack. "It disturbs me that we have a mandatory adult sentence for a 17 year old. Raising the age allows the judge discretion for those misdemeanors that they can keep them in the juvenile area and not housed with adults."
As part of the resolution, the board of commissioners are urging the State Legislature to monitor and adopt an approprlate funding mechanism through the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to cover the additional costs associated with increasing the age of the juvenile court jurisdiction from 17 to 18.
In speaking with The Oakland Press last month, Kathy Forzley, director of the county's department of health and human services, said one of her main concerns with raising the age would be the cost burden placed on local governments.
If the bills are approved, Zack said it's important that the state appropriate funding to help cover the potential additional costs to local governments.