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Raise the Age

Raising the Age: Shifting to a safer and more effective juvenile justice system

Raising the Age: Shifting to a safer and more effective juvenile justice system

Over the past ten years, half of the states that had previously excluded all 16- and/or 17-year-olds from juvenile court based solely on their age have changed their laws so that most youth under age 18 who touch the justice system will fall under the jurisdiction of the juvenile justice system. These policy changes are a part of a shift to “raise the age”—reforms focused on moving out of the adult criminal justice system the tens of thousands of youth under 18 who are automatically treated as adults because of age of jurisdiction laws. States have raised the age for many reasons, one of which is research showing that justice-involved teenagers are more likely to move past delinquency and successfully transition to adulthood if they are served by a juvenile justice system, not an adult criminal justice system.

CONNECTICUT: Public Safety and Emerging Adults in Connecticut: Providing Effective and Developmentally Appropriate Responses for Youth Under Age 21

The goal of this research project to answer the following questions:

- How would raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction to 21 fit into Connecticut’s substantial experience with justice reform, including the past “raise the age” initiative that successfully expanded juvenile jurisdiction from age 16 to 18?

- What lessons can be learned from other jurisdictions in the United States and abroad about more effective ways to address emerging adults in the justice system?

- What would be the broader impacts of these proposed reforms on Connecticut’s justice system?

- What are the key issues that need to be addressed to ensure the successful implementation of these new reforms in Connecticut?

Estimating the Crime Effects of Raising the Age of Majority: Evidence from Connecticut

The results of recent empirical research have shown that juveniles do not achieve complete psychosocial maturity until postadolescence and that processing juveniles as adults in the criminal justice system can be associated with elevated rates of criminal recidivism. In response to these as well as other concerns, several states have recently raised their legal ages of majority in the hopes of reducing juvenile offending rates. Connecticut enacted one such law change when it raised its age of majority from 16 to 17 in 2010 and then from 17 to 18 in 2012 for all but the most serious offenses. The effect of Connecticut's policy change on juvenile crime is examined in this study. To discern between changes in juvenile offending and changes in the propensity of police to arrest youthful offenders in the aftermath of a law change, we use two methodological approaches. Synthetic control methods are used to generate triple-differences estimates of the effect of Connecticut's policy change on juvenile arrests and overall crime rates by using a weighted average of other U.S. states as a natural comparison group. Next, by analyzing National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) data for a subset of Connecticut's local jurisdictions, we examine changes in age-specific juvenile arrests and changes in age-specific juvenile offending. The resulting evidence suggests that no discernable change in juvenile offending occurred. In addition, evidence exists that in some Connecticut jurisdictions, officer, rather than juvenile, behavior was impacted by this law change.

Increasing the Minimum Age for Adult Court: Is it Desirable, and What are the Effects

This policy essay reviews some of the many factors that might influence offending, points out the important distinction between first offending and reoffending, summarizes our previous work on raising the minimum age for adult court processing, assesses the validity of the conclusions drawn by Loeffler and Chalfin, and sets out what we consider to be desirable methods of evaluating a legislative change such as this one.

NORTH CAROLINA: Justice Reinvestment: NCCALJ Committee on Criminal Investigation and Adjudication Report on Raise the Age

The Committee recommends that North Carolina raise the age of juvenile court jurisdiction to include youthful offenders aged 16 and 17 years old for all crimes except Class A through E felonies and traffic offenses.