Bills Would Change 1st Minor in Possession from Misdemeanor to Civil Infraction
- School-to-Prison Pipeline
- Child Welfare Crossover
- Mental Health
- Juvenile Defense
- Juvenile Competency
- In-Home Care Incentive
- PREA, Isolation, Restraint
- Youth in Adult System
- Juvenile Life Without Parole
- Youth Reentry
By: Jason Smith
State Sen. Rick Jones is leading two bills that would decriminalize certain youthful behaviors and provide a second chance for young people to stay out of the criminal justice system.
Senate bills 332 and 333 would allow young adults under 21 who are arrested for the first time consuming, purchasing, or possessing alcohol to correct their mistakes without having the permanent mark of a criminal conviction on their record.
If passed, first time Minor in Possession (MIP) offenses would change from criminal misdemeanors to civil infractions, any option for jail time would be removed, and the first offense would not be officially recorded. The changes would still allow judges to order counseling and any additional alcohol-related or MIP offenses would stay as misdemeanors.
The proposed bills would also change the state’s current requirement to suspend the drivers license of anyone convicted of an MIP offense and limit the use of preliminary chemical breath analysis as the basis for an arrest.
These potential reforms to Michigan’s MIP laws are aligned with the growing national trend to reduce the involvement of young people in the criminal justice system. It decreases the over-reliance on the adult courts to address common youthful behavior and cuts down on associated costs to public safety. According to the State Senate Fiscal Agency’s analysis, decriminalizing a low-level first time offense could amount to ample savings at the local level preventing thousands from entering the justice system. Last year alone (2014) 9,300 young people were convicted for a first-time MIP offense, with many receiving jail time. While underage drinking is a serious matter, it is an issue that whenever possible, should be addressed in a manner that holds youth accountable, but does not jeopardize a young person’s chances of completing their educational goals or threaten future employment opportunities.
Experts: Brain Development Should Play Bigger Role in Determining Treatment of Juvenile Offenders by Gary Gately
What Are the Implications of Adolescent Brain Development for Juvenile Justice? by the Coalition for Juvenile Justice
Less Guilty by Reason of Adolescence by Laurence Steinberg, and Elizabeth Scott
Adolescent Development and Juvenile Justice published in The Future of Children