State Rep. Michele Hoitenga’s plan to end the policy requiring all 17-year-olds to be treated as adults in Michigan’s criminal justice system is on its way to the governor’s desk.
Hoitenga, of Manton, 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. She said eliminating this harmful and ineffective practice will help rehabilitate young offenders and reduce the likelihood of them breaking the law again in the future.
“Rather than locking up every troubled 17-year-old, we should be putting them into the juvenile justice system, which has a much greater focus on education and rehabilitation,” Hoitenga said. “Giving teenage offenders access to juvenile treatment programs is shown to greatly the chances of them reoffending.”
Including 17-year-olds in the juvenile system has been shown to reduce reoffending by 34 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
The plan Hoitenga helped sponsor 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 in most circumstances beginning Oct. 1, 2021. Prosecutors will continue to have discretion, allowing them to waive minors who commit violent crimes into the adult system when appropriate.
The measure also includes a funding plan to ensure local communities do not incur any additional costs associated with keeping 17-year-old offenders in the juvenile system, which is administered at the local level.