By Alexandra Ilitch
Michigan is one of five states that automatically allows 17 year-olds to be tried and sentenced as adults.
An effort, called Raise The Age in Michigan is working to showcase some of the pitfalls of that system and details why it says 17 year-old offenders should be tried as minors.
Being 18 years old in the State of Michigan means you can vote in a general election, buy cigarettes or join the military; privileges our state says only adults can do.
But if you break the law and you’re under the age of 18, you will be treated as an adult in the criminal justice system, no matter what the crime.
It’s part of the law that became a reality for Hakim Crampton and Phillip Lippert, who were both 17 years old when they were arrested, tried and sentenced as adults for a crime they didn’t commit.
During Wednesday night’s Raise the Age event at the Hannah Community Center in East Lansing, they both shared their stories about how our state’s juvenile justice system has created a burden in their lives and they deal with it to this day.
“There’s not been a single day or a single moment of my life that I have not lived outside the criminal justice system,” Crampton said. “For a person like myself that’s been out now 11 years still on parole, still living under restrictions, unable to prove my worth that I’m worth it being free, has been such a great complication in my own life and the lives of other people that still continue to have to deal with the system after the incarceration process, after having paid the price so to speak for the crimes that you were convicted of.”