States Reconsider Laws That Force Kids Into the Adult Justice System

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A new study by the Campaign for Youth Justice reports that states across the country are reversing legislation that is pushing 250,000 kids a year into the adult justice system.

Following a spike in juvenile crime in the 1980’s and 1990’s, many states began lowering the age that children could be prosecuted as an adult.  According to the study, incarcerating youth in adult prisons, “puts them at higher risk of abuse, injury, and death while they are in the system, and makes it more likely that they will reoffend once they get out.”

Fifteen states have already completed the changes necessary to put fewer kids in adult prisons and nine more have legislation in the works.  Georgia (along with Colorado, Texas and Washington) has updated its mandatory minimum sentencing laws for juveniles.

However, Georgia is still holding on to a law that automatically transfers children aged 13 and older who commit one of the “seven deadly sins” to adult court.  Offenses include murder, rape, aggravated child molestation, aggravated sodomy, aggravated sexual battery,  voluntary manslaughter and armed robbery with a firearm.

Published by

Ryan Schill

Ryan Schill is the editor of the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange. In 2012 he wrote a comics journalism piece about the ongoing U.S. immigration debate, published in partnership with Cartoon Movement. His 2011 story about a case of misdiagnosed child abuse won first place in the non-deadline writing category of the Society of Professional Journalists Green Eyeshade Awards for Excellence in Journalism. Ryan is completing his MA in professional writing at Kennesaw State University in Georgia, and has a BS in media studies. His research interests include experimental journalism forms, journalism ethics and philosophy, theories of literary journalism and the intersections of social justice and journalism.