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Minors no longer to be automatically treated as adults by Michigan criminal justice system

Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority

As of Friday, Oct. 1, the 'Raise the Age' legislation went into effect after being signed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer in 2019.

17-year-olds in Michigan will no longer be automatically treated like adults in the state's criminal justice system.

It took two years for the bill to become official because justice programs needed time to adjust to the older age group.

Jason Smith is the executive director for the Michigan Center for Youth Justice.

He points out that 17-year-olds can't vote, drink or serve in the military without permission.

"But they were automatically prosecuted as an adult in Michigan, no matter what the offense," Smith said.

The shift is "a good thing for Michigan's kids," he said. "Now, 17-year-olds will have access to treatment and programs, services that are age and developmentally appropriate for them."

The Poynter Institute's PolitiFact reports that there are three states in the country that still treat 17-year-olds automatically as adults in the system.