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Mass. Bill Would Put 17-Year-Olds In Juvenile Court

Seventeen-year-olds would fall under the jurisdiction of the state's juvenile courts under a bill approved by the Massachusetts Senate.

Currently in Massachusetts, 17-year-olds accused of a crime are treated as adults, regardless of the circumstances or severity of the offense.

Thirty-nine other states and the federal government use 18 as the age of adult criminal jurisdiction.

The bill doesn't change the law mandating that 17-year-olds accused of murder be tried and sentenced in adult court.

Supporters of the bill say in almost all other legal matters in Massachusetts - including voting, entering into a contract and serving on a jury - 18 is the age of adulthood.

Sen. Karen Spilka, an Ashland Democrat, said the bill recognizes 17-year-olds are still children and lack adult maturity.

The measure now heads to the Massachusetts House.

This program aired on August 1, 2013. The audio for this program is not available.

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