By Bob Katzen
The House sent to a study committee a bill that would gradually, over a 5-year period, raise the age that some defendants could be charged as juveniles. Currently, only youths who are under 18 can be charged as a juvenile. The bill would raise the age so that a defendant can be charged as a juvenile to include 18- 19- and 20-year-olds.
The most serious offenses, including first- and second-degree murder, would be exempt and 18- 19- and 20-year-olds charged with those offenses would still be charged as adults.
“[The bill] would decrease crime and recidivism, continue to hold young adults accountable and benefit the state’s economy,” said sponsor Rep. Jim O’ Day (D-West Boylston). “Young men of color bear the harshest brunt of the current policies and this racial disparity impacts their economic potential. It is the Legislature’s responsibility to ensure that policies governing the commonwealth are equitable and promote the advancement of young people.” O’Day added that he looks forward to working with advocates and young people on this issue again next session when he refiles the bill.