Over the past decade, all but five states have passed laws to raise the age of jurisdiction to 18 years of age. The lone exceptions are Georgia, Michigan, Missouri, Texas, and Wisconsin. According to a recent report issued by the Justice Policy Institute, Raising the Age: Shifting to a Safer and More Effective Juvenile Justice System, by raising the age, states were able to effectively keep young people safe, enhance public safety, and responsibly manage taxpayer dollars, which ran counter to anticipated concerns prior to this course of action.
Evidence indicates that youth incarcerated in an adult facility are the group most at risk of sexual assault. Sheriffs, along with juvenile and adult corrections officials have called on lawmakers to raise the age to keep youth safe and comply with federal laws, such as the Prison Rape Elimination Act.
Michigan counties that currently have diversion models are best able to connect a youth to needed services which can serve as models to help manage 16-17 year-olds in the community. Because states and counties have partnered for decades to reallocate resources and change policies to reduce reliance on adult corrections facilities, the Michigan youth justice system is in an ideal position to adopt the most effective models to manage raising the age without seeing costs rise significantly.
University of Michigan
School of Social Work
1080 South University Avenue
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1106