This week South Carolina lawmakers approved “raise the age” legislation that would increase the upper age of juvenile jurisdiction from 16 to 17 for most young offenders. All but nine states already consider teenagers juveniles until they turn 18.
Supporters of overhauling juvenile justice in Texas cheered the passage of two state bills even as some mourned the failure of a third that would have stopped the prosecution of 17-year-olds as adults.
Lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to restructure the state Juvenile Justice Department’s network of youth correctional facilities to keep teens closer to their homes in the sprawling state — a method that has been increasingly deployed in large states. And they voted to stop hauling kids into court for truancy, currently a misdemeanor criminal charge.
I was 13, and my girlfriends and I had just begun to hang out with some older boys. It was the summer before the eighth grade, and they were 16, going to be juniors, and they had a car. We’d hang out late at night, each telling our mothers that we were at the other friend’s house, and we’d mostly hang out on the jungle gyms at the park or drive out to the Las Vegas desert and drink wine coolers.
A life-long New Yorker, Jonathan Lippman, chief judge of the New York State Court of Appeals, uses his role as the chief judge to promote alternatives to incarceration and backed the creation of nine pilot community courts, called Adolescent Diversion Courts.