Lawmaker pushes plan to charge 17-year-olds as juveniles and not adults

State Rep. Roger Hauck testifies in support of his “Raise the Age” legislation before the House Judiciary Committee. He is joined by Rep. Leslie Love, who also sponsored part of the bipartisan plan.
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LANSING (WJRT) (4/9/2019) - A Mid-Michigan lawmakers is pushing a plan to charge 17-year-old suspects as juveniles and not adults.

State Rep. Roger Hauck, a Republican from Isabella County's Union Township, testified in support of the plan Tuesday. He pointed out Michigan is one of only four states to treat 17-year-olds as adults.

Current state law requires all 17-year-olds to be charged as adults, even for minor offenses. Hauck believes treating them as juveniles will increase their chances of rehabilitation and decrease the chances of them offending again.

“The bottom line is, sending 17-year-olds into the adult prison system is harmful," Hauck said. "Giving them access to age-appropriate rehabilitation services is safer and more constructive.”

He pointed to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing 17-year-olds charged as juveniles had a 34 percent lower risk of committing another offense later in life.

“Countless studies have shown that putting juveniles in adult prison increases the odds they will break the law again in the future,” Hauck said. “We will save public tax dollars and produce better outcomes by raising the age for juvenile justice in Michigan.”

He said Michigan began requiring 17-year-olds to be charged as adults in 1912. Under Hauck's plan, most suspects would be classified as juveniles, except when prosecutors want to pursue adult charges in serious violent crimes.

Hauck also wants to change the funding for counties' juvenile offender rehabilitation to account for the increase in services provided to 17-year-olds.

“In the long run, the state will save taxpayer dollars under this policy,” Hauck said. “It just makes sense to invest some of those savings into the juvenile system up front.”