Reformers want fewer 17-year-olds in prison

Capital News Service
LANSING — Michigan’s tough juvenile justice laws pose a safety risk for teens, produce repeat offenders and can actually make crime worse, reform advocates say. Michigan is one of just nine states to automatically prosecute 17-year-olds as adults, and it has no minimum age at which a person may be sentenced as an adult. Both policies are at odds with national trends and have legislators concerned the state’s approach is outdated. A report released last year by the Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency found youth incarcerated in the adult prison system faced an extreme risk of violence, sexual assault and self-harm. The study of state trends from 2003 to 2013 also found the state lacked appropriate rehabilitative services for young people exiting the prison system, making them more violent and more likely to reoffend than young people in the juvenile justice system. New legislation expected to be announced at an early April forum and introduced in the House of Representatives later this spring will take a bipartisan approach to reforming Michigan’s approach to juvenile justice.