Advocates Seek to Keep Youth Out of Adult Courts

New York is one of two states to prosecute 16-year-olds as adults. Some state politicians want to change the law so that anyone ages 16 or 17 goes to a youth court instead of an adult criminal court. Proponents of raising the age argue a higher age of criminal responsibility allows more teens to outgrow criminal behavior. Advocates say that teenagers outgrow criminal behavior when treated like teens instead of adults, a point supported by science.

Raise the Age; Don’t Split the Difference

The MacArthur Foundation’s new “Mistakes Kids Make”Internet-based campaign is a welcome and innovative way to educate the public of the wisdom of giving kids an opportunity to straighten out their lives and learn from their mistakes. As I watched the campaign’s clever animated video, it occurred to me that it is important for young and old to learn from our mistakes. That’s a good reminder, not just for kids in trouble but for policy makers as well. In Illinois, we recently made a significant change in our juvenile justice system that, while not a gigantic mistake, is one that other states should avoid. On the plus side, we in Illinois are learning from those actions and taking steps to correct our system.