first_img Categories: Howrylak News,News Bipartisan bills will treat 17-year-olds as minors for most criminal offenses A plan to change the age at which individuals are considered adults for the purposes of prosecuting and adjudicating criminal offenses – and the funding mechanism to support the change – recently was approved by the House Law and Justice Committee.The legislation voted on by the committee was offered by numerous Michigan state representatives as part of a bipartisan, 21-bill package.“This is a monumental criminal justice reform,” said Representative Martin Howrylak, of Troy, who serves on the committee. “We will be able to treat kids as kids and adults as adults within the system and that will lead to better rehabilitative efforts as we strive to get offenders back out into society to successfully live and work.”Michigan is one of just four states in the country that automatically consider a 17-year-old to be an adult in criminal offenses. With this legislative package, 17-year-olds will be moved under the jurisdiction of juvenile courts, while serious offenders could still be “waived up” to adult criminal court. Societal, behavioral and psychological analysis shows this practice creates a dangerous situation for young people who are in an older prison population and housed with adult inmates.A big hurdle with this shift in policy involves the costs arising from transferring authority from adult criminal courts to family courts in regards to 17-year-olds who commit criminal offenses – specifically the Michigan Child Care Fund. Currently, the Child Care Fund represents state dollars which currently provide 50 percent reimbursement to counties for the costs of providing child welfare and juvenile justice cases.House Bill 6396, sponsored by Howrylak, will give Michigan counties the ability to choose a funding option to assist in dealing with the influx of newly adjudicated 17-year olds. One option provides that all newly adjudicated 17-year-olds will be funded through an annual county juvenile grant, paid in quarterly increments, with no change to child care funding for juveniles 16 years of age or younger. The second option allows counties to forgo the grant and receive an overall increase in the Child Care Fund reimbursement rate of 68 percent. The legislation was the end result of a workgroup constructed by Representative Howrylak which was made up of representatives from Michigan counties, courts, sheriffs, prosecutors, and many others.“This proposal addresses the funding concerns that came from this project and I am pleased that the workgroup’s diligent work was recognized with the advancement of these bills,” said Howrylak.Two other Howrylak bills within the package, HBs 4678 and 4741, require policies and programs to be in place for inmates. Under HB 4678, a Family Advisory Board within the Michigan Department of Corrections will assist in family reunification after incarceration. Meanwhile, HB 4741 requires the MDOC to develop policies related to prison inmates who are less than 21 years of age.Another Howrylak bill, HB 4850, amends the Code of Criminal Procedure to require that an individual who is under 18 be taken to the family division of a circuit court, reflecting the change in age threshold within state law.After securing passage from committee, the bill package now advances to the House floor for further consideration. 29Nov Rep. Howrylak applauds committee passage of ‘Raise the Age’ proposallast_img read more