Report Faults Charging 17 Year Olds As Adults

A new report finds that Massachusetts' policy of charging 17 year olds as adults in the criminal justice system is doing more harm than good.

The Citizens for Juvenile Justice report compiled several national research studies showing that keeping 17 year olds in the juvenile justice system lowers recidivism rates and more often than not leads to better outcomes.

The group's executive director, Lael Chester, says except for serious violent crimes, high school students in trouble should not be prosecuted as adults.

"In the adult system, you're young, you're vulnerable," Chester said. "You may be learning but you'll be learning how to commit more crimes, not how to live a more productive life."

Massachusetts is one of 13 states where the age at which a person is charged as an adult for any crime is lower than 18.

This program aired on December 1, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

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Deborah Becker Host/Reporter
Deborah Becker is a senior correspondent and host at WBUR. Her reporting focuses on mental health, criminal justice and education.



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