Seventeen-year-olds in Michigan can't vote, can't serve in the military or buy a pack of cigarettes. Yet under current law they can be treated as a criminal. Proposed legislation at the statehouse would raise the age of juvenile-court jurisdiction to 18, which would align Michigan with standard national practice.
Tom Hickson, vice president for advocacy at the Michigan Catholic Conference, said 17-year-olds still are developing and more inclined to risky, impulsive behaviors.
"They maybe have a mistake they've done, certainly not something to be taken lightly, but we want to throw away their life for good because of some mistake they might have done at age 17," he said. "In most cases, it's more appropriate to treat 17-year-olds and send them to the juvenile system."