State lawmakers hear issues juveniles face while incarcerated

Boston Statehouse

A panel of juvenile justice advocates met with state lawmakers Monday.

Four young adults who served time in the Massachusetts House of Corrections want lawmakers to know that there are systemic problems that need to be addressed within the juvenile justice system.

At Monday’s panel discussion members of the Emerging Adults in the Criminal Justice System Task Force heard testimony about the issues that men and women face while incarcerated.

Part of the problem, the panel said, was the age someone is transferred from a juvenile detention center to state prison.

The group recommended raising that transfer age from 18 to 21.

“I think it would give younger folks a better opportunity to continue to do the healing work they need to do but they can’t do in the adult system,” said Michael Cox of Worcester.

The four boys on the panel also recommended re-investing in programs that help inmates after incarceration. 

ROCA, a community-based organization that operates in Springfield aims to help young adults change their behavior while building life skills.

They offer workshops and teen pregnancy prevention classes to give low-income residents and at-risk youth a better opportunity to succeed. 

Legislators were receptive to the recommended changes and made it clear that they are willing to work together to find a solution.

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