LANSING – Gov. Rick Snyder has signed into law a bill sponsored by Rep. Marcia Hovey-Wright (D-Muskegon) that aims to give youthful offenders a second chance to get their lives back on track and become productive, crime-free members of society. Hovey-Wright’s bill was part of a bipartisan, three-bill package that would make more youthful offenders eligible for participation in the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA) diversion program while working to reduce youthful recidivism.

“When a young person commits a crime, we shouldn’t lock them up and throw away the key,” Hovey-Wright said. “It’s better for the offender, better for their family and better for all of us if they get a chance to learn from their experience and work toward a better, more productive life. I’m confident this new law will help many young people move forward with their lives.”

Hovey-Wright’s House Bill 4169, now Public Act 33 of 2015, will:

  • Make certain low-end, non-assaultive offenses ineligible for HYTA prison. For offenses involving controlled substances, breaking and entering, larceny, unlawfully driving away a vehicle, carrying a concealed weapon or unarmed robbery, a judge will not be able to sentence HYTA offenders to prison. Instead, local options, such as jail and/or probation, must be used.
  • Maintain segregated housing units for HYTA offenders between the ages of 17-20 in order to keep younger offenders separated from older HYTA offenders and regular adult prison inmates, where they can be easy targets for sexual assault or learn criminal habits from older offenders.
  • Lower the maximum amount of time that an individual can be placed in HYTA prison from three to two years. Most HYTA offenders spend 18 months to two years in HYTA prison. This change would alleviate the fiscal impact of housing HYTA offenders for three years.
  • Allow HYTA prisoners to be placed on probation for up to 1 year after serving their sentence, requiring local courts to continue to supervise the offender for up to a year following a prison term.

Other bills in the package that are now signed into law include HB 4069 from Rep. Harvey Santana (D-Detroit), which would expand the HYTA participation age limit to include 21- to 23-year-olds; and HB 4135 from Rep. Kurt Heise (R-Plymouth), which would require judges to revoke HYTA status if an offender goes on to commit certain crimes, such as home invasion, carjacking, criminal sexual conduct or felonious assault.

“I’m grateful that both sides of the aisle and both chambers of the Legislature worked together to see these common-sense proposals passed into law,” Hovey-Wright said. “I’m glad that we are coming together to help this challenged age group work for a better future, instead of turning our backs on them.”