JUVENILE DIVERSION (S 2942)

By Bob Katzen

The Senate 32-8, approved and sent to the House a bill that would expand the number of offenses for which juvenile courts may divert accused juveniles from prison to community service. The measure gives juvenile judges the opportunity to decide, based on the facts of the case, if a child would be better served through a diversion program and receiving appropriate services in a community setting.

“This legislation will reduce recidivism by providing more young people a chance to receive appropriate services in response to a bad decision and ultimately avoid the collateral consequences of a juvenile record,” said Senate Majority Leader Sen. Cindy Creem (D-Newton). “As the lead sponsor of the bill, I am happy that the Senate passed this important reform to our juvenile justice system.”

“I voted [against the bill] because of the provisions … expanding its scope to include violent crimes including assault and battery with a dangerous weapon,” said Sen. Marc Pacheco (D-Taunton). He noted that the inclusion of these offenses as part of the expansion is a significant concern to the district attorney serving the constituents he represents and local law enforcement experts. He argued that some amendments that were rejected ultimately would have struck a better balance.

(A “Yes” vote is for the bill. A “No” vote is against it).

Sen. Patricia Jehlen Yes

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