State Senate finalizes plan to raise the age of legal adulthood in court system

State Senate finalizes plan to raise the age of legal adulthood in court system

A new bipartisan plan to raise the legal age of adulthood in the Michigan court system was finalized by the Senate on Wednesday.

The “Raise the Age” plan would formally recognize 17-year-olds as minors in most cases — specifically in cases of adjudication and prosecution of criminal offenses. However, 17-year-olds could still be treated as adults in cases of violent criminal offenses. The multi-bill plan will now be sent to the governor to sign off on it.

Sen. Peter J. Lucido, R-Shelby Township, is an attorney and former probation officer, as well as one of the sponsors of the plan.

“This is a momentous day for our state,” Lucido said in a statement. “After months of hard work and public input, today the Legislature acted to improve our criminal justice system by raising the age of legal adulthood."

“This long-overdue reform will ensure youth who are charged with criminal acts will, in most cases, be treated as the children they are. While they will still be held accountable for their actions, they also will have the opportunity to learn from their mistakes and have a better chance of becoming productive members of society.”

The plan would make changes to the state’s Probate Code, the Juvenile Diversion Act, the Youth Rehabilitation Act, the Mental Health Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure, and the Indigent Defense Commission Act to include the age distinction, and it would allow courts to prosecute 17-year-olds as children, as most other states do. Studies show that raise-the-age laws around the country have helped lower juvenile court recidivism.

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