House votes to move 17-year-olds into juvenile justice system

BOSTON (WWLP) — State lawmakers have voted unanimously in support of raising the age limit in juvenile court, which could benefit the public and young offenders.

The House of Representatives voted 152 to 0 in favor of raising the age of juvenile court jurisdiction so that 17-year-olds are no longer prosecuted as adults. Massachusetts is one of only 11 states that send 17-year-olds to adult prisons and jails, even for minor charges.

The House approved legislation will let 17-year-olds enter the juvenile system which has a lower rate of reoffending and keeps young people safer from physical and sexual assault. It also notifies parents if their child has been arrested or charged in court.

According to Naoko Carey, the spokesperson of Citizens for Juvenile Justice, “Kids who are processed in our juvenile systems do much better; they reoffend less, they get into trouble less, and that benefits really everybody. They're also much less vulnerable. Kids who are held in adult facilities are very vulnerable to sexual assault and rape.”

Young people charged for murder or other serious offences would still be tried as adults.

Massachusetts will be in violation of a new federal law that prohibits 17-year-olds from sharing cells with adults if the state does not pass this legislation by August.

Copyright 2014 WWLP TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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