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Reform group calls for end to "adult-time-for-adult-crime"

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Brian Turner
/
Flickr

A new report by the Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency is calling for an end to the state’s policy of automatically charging 17-year-olds as adults, and sending them to prison – even for non-violent offenses.

The Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency says teens sent to prison are more likely to re-offend after they’re released. The vast majority of teens sent to prison are 17 and the average stay is five years.

That means, they’re released in their mid-twenties without acquiring the life skills of most other people their age, says Kristen Staley, who helped compile the report.  She says sending teens to a youth facility makes more sense.

“It’s smarter,” she said.” It’s really no longer tough-on-crime, it’s smart on crime.”

She says some Republicans in Lansing are interested in overhauling the juvenile justice system.

“Across the nation, there’s been a change in terms of conservatives leading the reforms to actually de-incarcerate, to bring more people out of the prison system, and more people back into the community so that they be productive, so they can have jobs, so they can pay their taxes,” she said.

The state Department of Corrections says teen-aged inmates – there are currently 77 serving time – are already separated from the general population. Governor John Engler signed Michigan’s “adult-time-for-adult-crime” laws 18 years ago this month.