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Samedi 16 Novembre 2019

Salle de Presse

SC’s Raise the Age law is about to go into effect. How it will be implemented remains vague.

Wednesday 26th of June 2019 | Amerique du Nord, États-Unis
The Post and Courier
Nouvelle

Three years ago, South Carolina lawmakers passed a bill that raised the maximum age from 17 to 18 that teenagers could be considered adults in the criminal justice system.

The measure goes into effect July and will affect the likely thousands of teenagers across the state who will be accused of a crime in coming years.

Between 2010 and 2015, an average of 17,000 kids, ages 12-17, were arrested by South Carolina law enforcement, according to data collected by the Campaign for Youth Justice, a Washington, D.C.-based juvenile offender advocacy group.

Exceptions to the new law include teens younger than 18 accused of the most serious crimes including murder, rape and any felony for which someone could be sentenced for 15 years or more behind bars.

The Raise the Age Law boasted overwhelming bipartisan support and marked a signature achievement for the state’s embattled S.C. Department of Juvenile Justice.

An overarching goal of Raise the Age is to keep teen offenders out of adult jails and afford them an additional year of eligibility when it comes to rehabilitative programs.

It was also an opportunity for a state agency steeped in controversy to recommit to even more reforms within DJJ.

In practice, DJJ officials and advocates are hopeful that the Raise the Age law will expand the use of alternative diversion programs and allow judges more flexibility when considering incarceration for a young offender.

Some of those measures include ensuring probation is more effective by hiring more staff and requiring more training, paying closer attention to juveniles’ mental health needs, cutting back on pre-trial detention, and ensuring youths who are being held are separated from adult offenders.

Efforts like these, Raise the Age law proponents said, will lessen the strain on detention centers and, ideally, reduce recidivism.

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