LANSING — Today, a package of bills was passed by the House that would raise the age for automatic prosecution as an adult from seventeen to eighteen. Included in the package was House Bill 4142, introduced by state Rep. Brian Elder (D-Bay City), that would automatically refer seventeen-year-olds to the juvenile court system instead of trying them as adults for non-violent crimes.

“Prescribing age appropriate treatment to non-violent 17-year-olds through the juvenile justice system can significantly diminish the likelihood of young adults to re-offend,” said Rep. Elder. “In every other circumstance they’re considered children in the eyes of the law, but legally they can make a child’s mistake and still suffer an adult’s consequences, and that is a double standard we have to address. Young offenders should be afforded the opportunity to learn from their mistakes, to benefit from resources in the juvenile justice system, and to make better choices.”

Michigan is one of only four remaining states that automatically considers seventeen-year-olds adults for criminal offenses, including Georgia, Texas, and Wisconsin. If passed, Rep. Elder’s bill will take effect on January 1, 2021.