A bipartisan package of legislation was introduced that would change how 17-year-olds are treated in the criminal justice system. The proposal would raise the age at which individuals are considered adults for the purpose of prosecuting and adjudicating criminal offenses. This would allow 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 increased costs from the uptick of juvenile offenders in the system. Last term, similar legislation was making its way through the process, but was held up over the concerns of local governments due to the increased costs they would incur. The package has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee for consideration.
Michigan is one of four states that automatically prosecute 17-year-olds as adults. The bill sponsors believe this change will help rehabilitate young offenders and reduce recidivism.
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