Michigan raises age to be automatically tried as an adult to 18

Michigan raises age to be automatically tried as an adult to 18

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) on Thursday signed a bill raising the age at which criminal defendants are automatically charged as adults from 17 to 18, according to WWMT.

“I’m proud that Michigan has joined 46 other states in ending the unjust practice of charging and punishing our children as adults when they make mistakes,” Whitmer said in a statement. “These bills will strengthen the integrity of our justice system by ensuring that children have access to due process that is more responsive to juveniles.”

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A similar measure failed to pass the state legislature in 2018. Research published last year by the Prison Policy Initiative found that youth incarcerated with adult populations are at particular risk for sexual abuse, suicide and solitary confinement.

“Automatically charging 17-year-olds as adults began more than a century ago in Michigan and ignores the fact that intervention and rehabilitation, even this close to adulthood, is both humane and cost-effective for the individuals charged and society,” state Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) said in a statement.

The law is expected to shift about 7,564 cases to Michigan’s juvenile justice system, according to the nonpartisan Senate Fiscal Agency. The law also maintains prosecutorial judgment while eliminating automatic charging, according to WWMT.

“[The] prosecutor’s office always has the ability to go ahead and waive those individuals, like they’ve had all along," state Sen. Pete Lucido (R) previously said. "We’ve always had the right to waive those individuals who commit the most heinous crimes: murder, rape, arson, those are lifetime offenses and as a result, we’ve waived those individuals anyway."