RAISE THE AGE ON JUVENILE JUSTICE

Emerging ages, 18-20, need to move out of the adult justice system and into the more developmentally appropriate juvenile system. Join us to align with brain science research, extend effective diversion strategies and services, increase public safety, and advance equity.

 Contact your state legislators and ask them to raise the age!

HEAR FROM OUR YOUTH

Samir

“When people are young, they make mistakes.  We all make mistakes.  Just because you turn 18 doesn’t make you an adult, you are still developing and working on yourself.  People need more chances at that age.

We need to increase the age so young people can finish their education and get services.  that’s what makes things safer.  When you go to adult jail, it is traumatizing. youth are no longer thinking like a teenager when you send them there, locked up with people so much older.  When youth get out of adult jail, they are not the same.  You haven’t helped them.”

Jacob

“Fact: Shifting 18-21 year olds into the juvenile system where they must attend school and participate in programming will reduce recidivism…. The first time I got arrested I was just a few months after turning 18. This affected me well into my 20s. I didn’t have a full understanding of the legal system, what it meant to take a plea, what it meant to have a felony on my record.”

Emilia

“I truly believe that everyone deserves a second chance, and kids should get help. They should not have their entire lives ruined based on bad decisions they made when they were young.

We need you to pass the Raise the Age law. This will affect the future of so many youths. The livelihood of so many people are at stake. I know you want to make the world a better place for your children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews. This is how.”

Ryder

“If people had determined my fate based on my behavior when I was 18, 19, 20 years old, I would not be working and I woudl not be living independently… When you treat them as though their brains are fully developed when they are not, you are setting them up for failure.”

Milka

“They think when you turn 18 you don’t need anymore help and you are completely developed.  But when you’re 18 you’re still learning. It’s not about the age it’s about how your brain develops.

When you grow up in a community with a lot of violence and drugs it can be hard to get yourself on the right track, or get a job, it’s easy to get involved in things that will lead you to jail.”

Kenny

“All I had ever known was abuse and neglect, being in foster care, being homeless and being locked up once I turned 18.  I should not have been in adult jail.  I should not have been made homeless by the state.  I was a kid.  And the state didn’t do everything to take care of me, but then it had no problem sending me to jail. 

I think it could have been a lot different if I went to DYS when I started to get into trouble.  If I could have gotten more support past the age of 18.  I don’t want other kids to go through what I did.”

Chris

“Well the reason why I believe they should raise the age is because many people mess up and it’s okay if you do that’s life but what’s not okay is destroying the rest of your life by putting you away in a locked cages like a dog. I feel as if it would be better to help the people not hurt them. Not to lie to them but to tell them it’s going to be okay and make them feel as if they are part of something bigger than just a number.”

Indigo

“I’m 21 and I have adult charges hanging over my head…. There are youth who are like me who want into the medical field, who have the potential to achieve their goals, and it’s not fair.  I don’t want to be stuck working a cashier position all my life. “

Catherine

“Racism is a huge factor in why people of color are sent to the juvenile prison system as well as the adult prison system. In adult prisons they will lose out of opportunities that are available in the juvenile system like offers of educational, vocational, and psychological services”

JQ

“Some people have no choice but to accept the environment they’re in, and sometimes it may not be a good one….  I have been in and out of jail a lot unfortunately, and it is almost entirely my fault.  But it is also the government’s fault.”

Johnathan

“I think we should change this law.  At 18, most kids are still in High School.  It is different than if you do something and are 30 and have already gone thru that part of growing up and life.  I was experimenting and figuring life out.  The system doesn’t have a good understanding of who I am and where I come from.  When you are a teenager, going to jail makes things worse.  There is no support.  You just go and do time.  At DYS you have to go to school and get services.   And, you are really stuck if you have an adult record.  That is your future.”

Kayla

“They’re charging kids with adult crimes.  They’re trying to make them do adult time.  That just doesn’t fit together.”

Sameen

“Young adults and minors especially those who are of color are getting targeted to be incarcerated and treated unfairly like adults due to situations they need help on which they do not receive. When a minor does not receive that help, guidance, and support, and instead get sent to jail like adults, they are being set up for failure at such a young age. It can ruin their future. It can ruin their chance of getting a job. It can ruin their mental state further. This needs to change and we need to stop this. We need to help them, and put effort into helping them. These are young human beings with a life ahead of them. These are MINORS. Show some human decency and help, not punish.”

Scott

“Youth don’t get a record in DYS so they have more opportunities to succeed with job applications and their future.  I had a friend who got caught up when he was still in High School.  He didn’t get a chance to graduate.  He went to jail for a year because he had just turned 18.”

Louis

“Raise the age and continue raising it until we see improvements in our communities and positive outcomes that this bill being passed will have in our communities.  I believe that this will have the most positive outcomes because there will be less kids in the adult justice system.  As citizens and taxpayers we would not be investing in the trauma being inflicted on young people.  Lawmakers are responsible for this; young people shouldn’t be in jail with much older people.  You are condemning them to more trauma that will unravel this person.  Generational trauma continues and you are the reason that happens because you choose not to listen to the citizens’ needs.  We have our eyes on you, and the reign of power will not continue because we will see through you.  If youth don’t have stable household, and everything we are inflicting on young people, we are asking them to deal with alone when they are not developed yet. We need to invest in hopes and dreams before any crime happens.  We should not have to pay this much after 18 to incarcerate if we can heavily invest in their schools, mental health (these are things youth get at DYS) to combat generational poverty.  We are still breaking the chains of colonization. For 300 years this generational trauma has continued.

 

This law affects people we know, people who struggle.  If you care about young people of color, you need to support this. You have the power to prevent people of color from being caught in this. “

Shakye

“Young Black and Brown kids are put into prisons with adults, which can be dangerous emotionally, mentally, and physically. Not allowing them to grow will lead to future generations without leaders that look like them.”

Adam

“It’s your obligation to go through with this instead of condemning youth to a cycle they cant get out of.  Youth you are imprisoning are legally adults who cant pay taxes. I don’t want my money and taxes going to locking people up.  This is irresponsible and shows you don’t care.”

Christina

“When I went to the workshop, I was even more proud to work at MTW because we are doing good and important things.  I love that we are trying to get this Raise the Age done and pushing for something that needs to happen.  So many kids today have to deal with so much that happened to them and forced to live in a reality where society doesn’t love them and doesn’t care where they end up.  I’ve never been to jail, but a lot of people in my family have.  It hurts to wonder what we would have been like if it hadn’t happened- if my uncle hadn’t stolen that 1 thing from the store when he was 18.  Would he and others be a happier family?  I want to prevent that from happening to more people.  Everyone deserves a proper chance to get it together. I am almost 18 and I cant imagine going through the adult legal system as I am now.  I barely feel able to schedule a doctors appointment by myself.  It is wild to think about the number of people facing this part of our world they are not ready for yet. Raise the Age needs to happen.  It needs to happen for the world,  for the future of the US.  We will be a better a place for it.”

Jasmine

I have to say that I am severely disappointed. Young adults are able to be pushed into an adult prison. Especially people of color. That is not acceptable. I have close friends of mine who have been thrown into jail when they were just minors. A friend of mine was in the foster care system, dealing with many hardships. He got thrown in an adult prison just because he was having struggles and made mistakes and no one knew what to do with him. Why do you think it’s acceptable to lock them up for 10 plus years because you don’t want to do your job and help them? They’re not able to finish school, get their diploma, rebuild their lives. It is time to stop throwing away the key. The appropriate human brain is not developed until you are 25. How is someone supposed to learn from their mistakes if they’re stuck in prison for the most of their lives? DO BETTER & BE BETTER. Period. “

Alexis

“I was born and raised in Dorchester MA, as well as my entire family. Growing up I came from poverty stricken neighborhoods where we didn’t have much but we made the best out of what we did have. All my life I’ve been a victim to violence and crime, sometimes personally, sometimes from the outside looking in. I’ve grown up with friends who have been involved with DCF, DYS, both, or worse. Although their actions were in no way excusable the people locking them up need to take into account that they are still human beings. They are still young adults learning how to maneuver through life. Some do not have the proper guidance or resources to make the best decisions. You gather POC and throw them in these very poor, crime ridden neighborhoods where there is nothing to do but resort to the violence that they are being exposed to from the time they are children. This system was meticulously designed for POC to fail simply because of our skin color. Let me elaborate. America is predominantly white totaling to a whopping 76.3%. Black/African Americans only make up 13.4% of the population, Natives/Native Americans 1.3%, and Asians/Asian American make up 5.9%. My point in bringing this up is POC make up about 80% of the jail population. Statistically speaking we are overpowered, yet we are still feared. People fear what they don’t understand. Understand this, we are systematically cursed. We are products of generational curses. Understand we are no different from one another. Please don’t look at our children as a nuisance but instead grant them the same help and effort as you would one of your own. All they need is someone who cares not because they have to but because it’s the right thing to do. Please raise the age for youth in the system so that they have a second chance at a new beginning. Show them that they do not have to succumb to the pressures of their everyday life, that there is a better way out.”

Mako

“I feel like raising the age at which one can be tried and incarcerated as an adult to at least 20 is a matter of common sense. It’s pretty widely known that the human brain isn’t finished developing until around the age of 25, so why are we treating young adults as though their brains are fully developed? Why can someone be tried as an adult for a crime before they can legally drink or smoke? Why does our justice system feel the need to antagonize us from such a young age instead of trying to provide us with support, especially our Black and Brown youth? A person’s entire livelihood does not need to get destroyed for them to learn – they need guidance and support for that to happen. We need to step back, take a look at the whole system, and start to rebuild it.”

THE FACTS ABOUT RAISE THE AGE

  • Adolescents’ brains are measurably different from adults. Adolescents are more likely to be influenced by peers, and engage in risky and impulsive behaviors.
  • Courts, agencies and practitioners should use this knowledge to ensure a developmentally appropriate response.
  • Toxic environments, like adult jails and prisons, increase problematic behaviors and recidivism.
  • Teens and young adults incarcerated in Massachusetts’ adult correctional facilities have a 55% re-conviction rate, compared to a similar profile of non-incarcerated teens whose re-conviction rate is 22%.
  • Only 25% of Massachusetts’ young adult population is Black or Latino, but 70% of young adults incarcerated in state prisons and 57% of young adults incarcerated in county jails are people of color.
  • Black and Latino young adults are 3.2 and 1.7 times as likely to be imprisoned as their white peers.
  • Young people detained or committed to DYS are mandated to attend school every day and have easier access to special education resources, decreasing their likelihood of dropping out of high school.
  • An adult record creates a barrier for employment, education, professional licensure, and service in the armed forces.
  • There is a strong relationship between dropping out of school and criminal involvement: 40% of people in state prison and 47% in jails have not completed high school. A single dropout would cost taxpayers $292,000.
  • Emerging adults may receive Department of Children and Families services up to age 23. However, if they enter the adult criminal legal system those services, especially those from child-serving agencies, can be severed.
  • Adult system involvement is a serious impediment for continuity of connections to service providers and mentors.