March 16, 2011
New Report Highlights State Legislative Changes and Reform Efforts in the Removal of Youth from the Adult Criminal System
State Trends: Legislative Victories from 2005 to 2010 Removing Youth from the Adult Criminal Justice System
Neelum Arya, National Research and Policy Director at the Campaign for Youth Justice, recently authored the report, State Trends: Legislative Changes from 2005 to 2010 Removing Youth from the Adult Criminal Justice System, which provides state policymakers, the media, the public, and advocates with the latest information about youth in the adult justice system. The first half of the report explains the dangers to youth, public safety, and the overall prosperity of our economy and future generations. The second half of the report examines 27 positive pieces of legislation enacted in 15 states during the last 5 years, as well as highlights active reform efforts underway in four categories.
- Trend 1: Four states (Colorado, Maine, Virginia and Pennsylvania) have passed laws limiting the ability to house youth in adult jails and prisons.
- Trend 2: Three states (Connecticut, Illinois and Mississippi) have expanded their juvenile court jurisdiction so that older youth who previously would be automatically tried as adults are not prosecuted in adult criminal court.
- Trend 3: Ten states (Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Nevada, Utah, Virginia and Washington) have changed their transfer laws making it more likely that youth will stay in the juvenile justice system.
- Trend 4: Four states (Colorado, Georgia, Texas and Washington) have changed their mandatory minimum sentencing laws to take into account the developmental differences between youth and adults.
This report arrives at a moment when there is a real opportunity for reform. States are recognizing that youth have developmental differences from adults as well as a great potential for rehabilitation, both of which should be taken into account in sentencing.