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Karen Spilka, D-Ashland, raises the age of juvenile-court jurisdiction in Massachusetts from 16 to 17.
This goes hand in hand with the minimum age for voting and jury duty.
Victims advocate Laurie Myers, of the Chelmsford-based Community Voices, said, "The issue here is around monitoring inmates, whether they are housed in adult or juvenile facilities.
Will this new law put young children in juvenile facilities at risk of being victimized by a 17-year-old, adult-sized juvenile?
Dangerous teens who are accused of crimes, such as murder, certain firearms offenses and other "serious bodily harm" charges, or have had previous DYS commitments, can still be tried in adult court as "youthful offenders," which covers children from 14 to 17 years old, according to the 2013 DYS website.
They process information differently, are much more impulsive and are not always able to fully appreciate the consequences of their actions," she said.
He believes the new law is a good one for a variety of reasons, especially because "17-year-olds are still youngsters. Their state of maturity isn't that of an adult." Fuster feels the new law will help many of these teens steer clear of further criminal behavior.
"The juvenile court system has many more diversionary programs than the adult court system," he said For Lowell attorney Kerry Ahern, a former prosecutor turned juvenile defense attorney, the change in the law is "a great move and way overdue." Ahern, like many others, say the new law is a no-brainer.
The Berkshire Juvenile Court on North Street in Pittsfield. Deval Patrick signed the so-called "Raise the Age" bill into law, 17-year-olds who commit crimes no longer go to adult court. Instead of going to county facilities like the Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction, a 17-year-old convicted of a felony, misdemeanor or municipal ordinance violation (like public drinking), is considered a "juvenile delinquent," with an age range of 7 to 17.
Seventeen-year-olds who run afoul of the law will now have their cases heard in juvenile court, per the new ‘Raise the Age’ law signed by Gov. The teen can be sent to a Department of Youth Services facility until the age of 18.
"For me, this is about ensuring we give youth caught up in the justice system the best opportunity possible to turn their lives around and become productive, taxpaying members of society," Koutoujian added.