Another step is proposed today as part of a prison reform movement.
This one to ban the practice of charging 17-year-olds as adults in the criminal justice system and there is bi-partisan support.
Under current Michigan law, local prosecutors can charge a 17 year old juvenile with an adult crime which means, according to those lawmakers, they will do hard time with adult criminals and be abused.
State Sen. Sylvia Santana explaineds, “so many 17 year olds are locked and have been sexually assaulted and abused and they have been isolated by prison officials in order to protect them.”
This proposal has been in the hopper for years but reported opposition from the counties has blocked it, according to Republican state Sen. Peter Lucido, these children should be given a break.
“Gving them a break and showing them there is another pathway may give them an understanding as they grow older that this was wrong.”
As to how he would respond to people saying he’s soft on crime, the senator is blunt. “Bull”, he says.
The 14 bill “Raise the Age” package does give local prosecutors the option to charge 17-year-olds as adults if they commited a violent crime but not for minor offenses.
“We’re not talking about serious offenses but rather routine things such as shoplifting, vandalism but not violent crimes,” explains Tom Hixon of the Michigan Catholic Conference
In additon to protecting the juveniles from going to prison, the sponosrs say it is also a cost saver for taxpayers to keep them out of these expensive cells.