A local lawmaker is supporting legislation that would place 17-year-olds who have committed a crime into the juvenile justice system.

State Representative Ann Bollin of Brighton Township voted last week in favor of a series of bills that would raise the age at which individuals are considered adults for the purposes of prosecuting criminal offenses. Michigan is currently one of only 4 states in the Union that still requires 17-year-olds to be prosecuted as adults, even in the case of minor offenses. The new plan would allow 17-year-olds to be treated as minors for most circumstances, beginning in October 2021. Prosecutors would retain some discretion and the ability to waive minors who have committed violent crimes into the adult criminal justice system when appropriate.

Bollin said in a release that 17-year-olds don’t do well in the adult prison system, and that they are more likely to succeed in the future if they are given access to the rehabilitation programs available in juvenile court. This is supported by a study from the Centers for Disease Control which shows that including 17-year-olds in the juvenile system reduces re-offense rates by 34%. Bollin also pointed to Connecticut, Illinois, and Massachusetts where similar reform brought millions of dollars of public tax dollar savings and improved public safety.

The plan, which was overwhelmingly supported by the Michigan House, is now with the Senate, for consideration. (MK)