In the mid-1990s, Michigan became part of a national trend to “get tough on youth crime.” Although crime rates were steadily declining, the state passed a series of harsh laws that funneled thousands of youth under 18 into the adult criminal justice system. Raise the Age is a step away from the outdated "tough on crime" models and a step toward "smart on crime".
Prosecuting youth as adults is harmful to children, threatens public safety, and is EXPENSIVE.
Youth incarcerated in adult facilities more likely to be physically attacked, sexually assaulted and attempt suicide than young people in the juvenile justice system
Youth incarceration in adult facilities increases violent crime. National research found that youth exiting the adult system are 34 percent more likely to re-offend, re-offend sooner, and escalate to more violent offenses than their counterparts in the juvenile justice system.
Raising the age allows 17-year-olds to access rehabilitative age-appropriate services
Juvenile courts offer highly effective diversion and community-based programs not accessible in adult court. Because the majority of 17-year-olds have non-violent charges, they would likely respond well to community-based options that are designed to keep kids in school, address underlying treatment needs, and engage the whole family.
Juvenile courts and facilities already serve 17-year-olds
According to current state law, a youth who attains her/his 17th birthday after the filing of a court petition remains under juvenile court supervision. In some cases, young people who enter the juvenile justice system before turning 17 can even remain under juvenile court jurisdiction until age 21. As a result, most of Michigan’s juvenile court professionals and facility staff already have extensive experience working with older youth.
Michigan is primed and ready to raise the age
Like other states that have previously raised their age of juvenile jurisdiction, Michigan is shifting towards a more effective juvenile justice system. With the expanded the use of diversion, a reduced reliance on out of placement, and an increased use of validated assessment tools by juvenile courts to direct youth to the appropriate treatment, Michigan juvenile courts are is in a better position to serve all justice-involved youth effectively, including 17 year-olds.
Most 17-year-olds in the adult system are behind in school and suffer from severe behavioral health needs that adult probation and prison are not designed to address.