Only Michigan and four other states treat 17-year-olds as adults in the criminal justice system. Currently, a 17-year-old, who is legally too young to vote, marry, or join the military, can be convicted in adult court.

There is little disagreement among stakeholders that raise the age is good for Michigan. However, uncertainty about the potential costs of this reform has delayed legislative activity for much of the last two sessions. During this time, a number of other states passed similar raise the age legislation.

This reform would shift some state-level costs to the counties. Currently, counties receive state funding and are responsible for many costs in the juvenile system.

The Criminal Justice Policy Commission commissioned a study of the potential costs related to this reform effort. The final report was approved today at a meeting in the Capitol.

The cost study, prepared by Hornby Zeller Associates, does not capture the important societal benefits of raising the age of criminal responsibility. These benefits include better outcomes for justice-involved juveniles, reduced costs to the adult system, and long-term increases in community safety and productivity.

Despite the absence of this information, the report offers an opportunity to incorporate these issues into the raise the age conversation, which will present a more holistic picture of the benefits of raising the age in Michigan.

We look forward to following the lead of other states and raising the age of criminal responsibility in Michigan.