Advocates seeking to change juvenile offender age

Boston Statehouse

BOSTON (WWLP) – Criminal justice advocates are calling for changes to the way younger offenders are incarcerated.

The group is hoping lawmakers will raise the juvenile incarceration age from 18 to 21 so that youth offenders have a better chance of being rehabilitated.

During a legislative briefing Thursday, a panel of criminal justice experts were joined by former inmates who heard about the proposal and wanted to get involved. The inmates talked about their time behind bars, and how it felt to be incarcerated at such a young age.

“I was never offered anything, not nothing, it was just years, two and a half then three to five years,” Devyn Stone, a former juvenile inmate said.

What the inmates tried to relay to lawmakers is that programs inside juvenile correction facilities need to improve so that teens and young adults can leave with new skills.

“It should be a requirement that education takes place, but also as they do get their GED to make sure that there are college courses, there’s other vocation training that makes them a better adult when they leave the system,” Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan said.

In 2013, the age that someone could be tried as a juvenile raised from 17 to 18. The proposal this session would raise that from 18 to 19 and after that, the number would gradually rise from 19 to 21 to allow the state’s juvenile courts to adjust to the additional caseload.

Patriots players Devon and Jason McCourty have come out in support of this proposal, writing in an op-ed for the Boston Globe earlier this week that we need to stop criminalizing our youth.

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