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Sunday 9th of August 2020

Documentation Center

Raising the Floor - Raising the Minimum Age of Prosecution As An Adult

Campaign for Youth Justice


All fifty states and the District of Columbia have one or more mechanisms to transfer youth under eighteen-years-old from juvenile court to adult court. In many states, there is no minimum age of prosecution as an adult for youth charged with certain offenses. In Florida and Wisconsin, state laws have recently permitted the transfer of children twelve-years-old and younger to adult court.

An abundance of research, the U.S. Supreme Court, and medical experts agree that youth are fundamentally different from adults and therefore should be treated differently in the context of the criminal justice system. Children in the adult criminal justice system are more likely to experience abuse, commit suicide, and be exposed to prolonged periods of solitary confinement akin to torture. Efforts by state legislatures to set or raise the minimum age of transfer are critical first steps toward protecting children and youth from a system that was not created to serve or rehabilitate them.

Over the past decade, a number of state legislatures have passed bills to “raise the floor” by raising the minimum age of prosecution as an adult for all or some offenses, thereby narrowing the number of youth who could enter the adult criminal justice system in their state. Some of these states have raised the floor in a way that eliminates one of their state’s transfer mechanisms all together. For many states, raising the minimum age of transfer will roll back transfer legislation passed during the “tough on crime” era of the late 1980s and the 1990s. During this era, concern over a rise in violent crime resulted in an increase of harsh and often disproportionate penalties against both youth and adults.


North America - United States

Year Language

2019 English

Category Type

Grey Literature Report


Court, Criminal, Judicial, Responsability


Pdf file

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  • International Juvenile Justice Observatory (IJJO). Belgian Public Utility Foundation

    All rights reserved

  • Head Office: Rue Armand Campenhout, nº 72 bte 10. 1050. Brussels. Belgium

    Phone: 00 32 262 988 90. Fax: 00 32 262 988 99. oijj@oijj.org

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