It has been a year and a half, since the Raise the Age bill was introduced to the Michigan legislature by Republican representative Jeff Noble. This week, the bill was discussed by the law and justice committee of the legislature.
According to Jenny Kinne, Community Engagement Specialist for the Michigan League of Public Policy, this bill has the potential to change the way 17 year olds are treated in the criminal justice system.
“In the state of Michigan you are considered an adult at 18 in virtually every category of your life, except for when it comes to the correction system.”
Michigan is one of only four states that automatically prosecutes all 17-year-olds as adults for any offense.
“So, if you are 17, and you get caught with say marijuana on your person, you will be tried as an adult in that situation despite the fact that that is not a violent crime.”
About two-thirds of the 17 year olds who are tried as adults were convicted of non-violent offenses that did not include weapons. Far more youth of color are disproportionately affected by this law.
“So you are much more likely to be tried as an adult at 17 if you are a kid of color, and this is particularly true when it comes to non-violent offenses.
Currently, when a 17-year-old is tried as an adult, the state covers 100 percent of the cost, but when a young person goes through the juvenile justice system 50 percent of the cost falls on the county. If this bi-partisan bill passes, counties could incur the cost of a 17-year-old tried for committing a crime.
Michelle Jokisch Polo, for WGVU News.