Raising the Age: Shifting to a Safer and More Effective Juvenile Justice System

Raising the Age: Shifting to a Safer and More Effective Juvenile Justice System

Despite concerns that raising the age of criminal responsibility to 18 would overwhelm juvenile justice systems, states that raised the age over the past decade have not seen a surge in the number of juvenile justice-involved youth or increases in crime, a report from the Justice Policy Institute and the Open Society Foundations finds. The report, Raising the Age: Shifting to a Safer and More Effective Juvenile Justice System (96 pages, PDF), argues that the seven states which raised the age of criminal responsibility have in fact enhanced public safety and, at the same time, developed fairer, more effective juvenile justice systems. The report outlines seven steps that states can take to raise the age of criminal responsibility while also improving public safety — expanding the use of diversion, improving the effectiveness of probation and aftercare programs, addressing mental health needs outside the justice system, reducing the use of pretrial detention, relying less on facilities and focusing more resources on community-based approaches, complying with the prison rape elimination act, and improving juvenile justice systems’ resource management and strategies so as to serve youth more effectively.