Snyder signs bills expanding use of alternative sentencing program for youthful offenders

A program for youthful offenders that allows them to have their criminal record cleared if they serve their sentence without incident will be improved and expanded under legislation signed Wednesday by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder.

The bill package expands the age of eligibility under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA), which allows sentences to be decided by the prosecuting attorney and judge, and can involve probation, jail or prison.

“Allowing younger offenders to fulfill their sentence with the promise of a second chance gives them invaluable time to consider the consequences of their actions and chart a different course for the future,” Snyder said. “Under the discretion of the judge and prosecuting attorney, this program enables an offender to continue working or going to school. It is showing good results for our youth and our communities and deserves to be expanded.”

House Bill 4069, sponsored by Rep. Harvey Santana, expands the eligibility age for HYTA so that offenders between the ages of 17 and 23 qualify for the program and clarifies the authority of the court to require trainees to be employed or in school to retain HYTA status.  HB 4135, sponsored by Rep. Kurt Heise, requires the automatic revocation of HYTA status for anyone who is convicted of a listed assaultive offense or firearm crime while under supervision. HB 4169, sponsored by Rep. Marcia Hovey-Wright, limits the maximum sentence length for HYTA offenders sentenced to prison time. The bills are now Public Acts 31, 32 and 33 of 2015.

The governor spoke about HYTA in his Special Message on Criminal Justice on May 18, under the topic of diversion and being smarter about how and when incarceration is the best option for an offender, or whether an alternative
sentence would better serve the public interest.

 For additional information on this and other legislation, visit www.legislature.michigan.gov.