Since 2007, Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, and South Carolina have all passed laws to raise the age. In 2017, each of the seven remaining states—Georgia, Michigan, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin—are considering some type of legislative proposal that would raise the age from 17 and/or 16 years of age to 18 years of age.
“The seven states considering proposals to raise the age this year can move youth from the adult court, jails and prisons into the youth justice system, safe in the knowledge that they can make the change without significantly increasing costs, and keep youth and communities safer,” said Marc Schindler, Executive Director, Justice Policy Institute.
Before Connecticut, Illinois and Massachusetts absorbed 16-or-17-year-olds into their youth justice system, there were dire predictions that the change would overwhelm the courts and youth corrections. Instead, taxpayer costs were kept in check and juvenile crime continued to fall.
States that raised the age avoided fears that the youth justice system would be overwhelmed for a number of reasons, including that the fiscal impact statements offered by stakeholders in Connecticut, Illinois, and Massachusetts were limited and did not project true expenditure trends. Youth justice systems also managed the change by shifting to more cost effective practices that are more likely to help a young person move past delinquency and reduce the chances a youth will reoffend, including reduced reliance on confinement.
A major reason why states are raising the age is to keep youth safe.
Youth incarcerated in an adult facility are the group most at risk of sexual assault. Sheriffs, along with juvenile and adult corrections officials have called on lawmakers to raise the age to keep youth safe and avoid building new adult jails and prisons, and comply with federal laws, such as the Prison Rape Elimination Act.
About Justice Policy Institute:
JPI is dedicated to reducing the use of incarceration and the justice system by promoting fair and effective policies. For more JPI publications on the justice system, visit www.justicepolicy.org.
Elizabeth McCabe Deal
Phone: 202.558.7974 x307/ 202.888.6784
SOURCE Justice Policy Institute