Massachusetts Police are warning it’s a “slippery slope” to blindly raise the age of juvenile offenders from 18 to 21, with other officials saying programs to keep teens out of jail are safer alternatives.
The Emerging Adults in the Criminal Justice System Task Force met for the fourth time Monday to look at recommendations on raising the age an offender is sent to adult court past 18 to 21 years old. The task force faces a July 1 deadline to report their work to the Legislature. It was created under the state’s 2018 criminal justice reform law, the Boston Herald reports.
“We are definitely open-minded and ready to hear the discussion about it, but there are definitely some concerns,” said Chelsea Police Chief Brian Kyes, who testified with Cambridge Deputy Superintendent Robert Lowe. Kyes said changing the age from 17 to 18 years old made sense when it was done in 2013, but he’d need a lot more data to be convinced to hike it again.
“If we raise the age to 19 or 20, then why not 21, 22, 23, 24 or even 25?” said Kyes, president of the Massachusetts Major City Police Chiefs Association. “It is a slippery slope.”