Statement: League applauds legislative action to support justice-involved kids, improve rehabilitation

Alex Rossman

LANSING—The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement in praise of the Michigan House of Representatives’ bipartisan passage of “raise the age” legislation to treat justice-involved 17-year-olds as juveniles, in sentencing, treatment and services, and placement. The League has been a strong advocate for this legislation and the positive impact it will have on Michigan youth and their futures. The League will continue to advocate for other prison reforms, issuing a report on Monday that noted Michigan has one of the highest rates of kids with incarcerated parents in the country. The statement may be attributed to League Vice President Karen Holcomb-Merrill.

“The League is extremely pleased to see action on this important legislation today to stop treating all justice-involved 17-year-olds as adults. Sentencing kids as adults—especially nonviolent or first-time offenders—greatly harms their chance at rehabilitation. Treating these kids like adults makes them 34 percent more likely to reoffend, and having a prison record is detrimental to their future education, employment, housing and relationships. These are impressionable, still-developing kids and will rightfully be treated as such, getting the age-appropriate treatment that we know is effective and will improve their long-term outcomes.

“Michigan was one of the few states in the country that had yet to tackle this issue, and we appreciate the House’s recognition of the importance of it today. We want to thank Representative Santana for his leadership on this issue, the bill sponsors, Representative Heise and members of the House Criminal Justice Committee, and Speaker Cotter for their commitment, and the many other organizations who we have worked alongside to see this legislation passed. We urge the Senate to continue this bipartisan momentum and act swiftly to better protect Michigan’s kids.”


The Michigan League for Public Policy,, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.