States soften stance on adult prosecution of juvenile offenders
Several states that automatically prosecute accused offenders as adults beginning at age 17 year are considering raising the age to 18.
Louisiana and South Carolina are both considering bills to raise the age, the New York Times reports. The proposals are backed by a national “raise the age” movement that stresses neurological differences in young people’s brains and the greater possibility of rehabilitation for youths sent to juvenile facilities.
“Seventeen-year-olds cannot vote, buy cigarettes or even adopt a dog from an animal shelter,” according to the May 13 article. “But as of today, in nine states, including Louisiana, they are automatically handled as adults, rather than as juveniles. In two states, New York and North Carolina, 16-year-olds are as well.”
Other states have already made the change. In the last seven years, Illinois and Connecticut raised the age for automatic adult prosecution from 16 to 18, while Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Mississippi raised the age from 17 to 18.