LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Wednesday approved Sen. Michael D. MacDonald’s legislation as part of a bipartisan effort to raise the age of legal adulthood within the state’s court system, establishing 17-year-olds as minors in most instances.
“Americans younger than 18 years old cannot vote, buy tobacco, or enlist in the military without a parent’s consent, yet they are automatically punished as adults in Michigan for nonviolent offenses,” said MacDonald, R-Macomb Township. “Treating troubled youths through the juvenile justice system is a better and more effective way to rehabilitate them and get them on a productive path.”
The 14-bill “Raise the Age” package would amend or add language to various parts of state law to formally recognize that 17-year-olds should be considered juveniles for purposes of adjudication or prosecution of nonviolent criminal offenses.
The bills would still allow for 17-year-olds to be treated as adults in violent criminal offenses.
“By aligning our judicial system with the understanding that teenagers under the age of 18 are still youths, we can hold young offenders accountable while also giving them a chance to change the course of their lives,” MacDonald said. “The result of focusing on correcting bad behavior in our youths instead of simply punishing it will be a reduction in repeat offenders — which is good for everyone.”
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 sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.