The Arlington Human Rights Commission endorses the Raise the Age campaign that supports legislation to end the automatic prosecution of 18-20-yr-olds as adults in the state of Massachusetts. This bill (H1826 & S942) proposes the gradual increase in age that individuals are in juvenile jurisdiction. This campaign is an effort by Citizens for Juvenile Justice (CfJJ), an independent nonprofit that works towards systemic reform in the juvenile justice system. In a presentation made to representatives of the Massachusetts Human Rights Coalition, Sana Fadel, Deputy Director of the CfJJ, made the following points regarding issues with the the current system of treating young people as adults in the justice system:
Recidivism - Young adults are much more likely to commit a crime again if prosecuted outside the juvenile justice system.
Equity - Young people of color are disproportionately involved in incarceration.
Punitive systems - Lack of focus on rehabilitation in a developmentally inappropriate system causes severe harm to young individuals.
Collateral consequences - Legal interventions within the current system cause lasting consequences to economic and employment outcomes.
Raising the age will lead to better outcomes for individuals who are part of this program, and it also improves overall public safety by reducing the rate of recidivism. The move towards equity is another positive outcome since young people of color and from lower income communities are disproportionately part of the justice system. Promotion of diversionary programs provides additional economic benefit for the individual and community since prioritization of education and skill-building improves employment opportunities. The juvenile justice system relies on community-based alternatives to legal intervention thus reducing the overall expenditure by the state towards the justice system.
You can help support this initiative by writing to your state representatives using this convenient tool (which will route your letter to the right representatives).
Arlington values equity, diversity, and inclusion. We are committed to building a community where everyone is heard, respected, and protected.
By Mail: 27 Maple Street
Arlington, MA 02476