The South Carolina state legislature has unanimously voted to lift the age limit, at which teens can be tried as adults.
On Tuesday, May 26, the South Carolina state legislature voted 37-0 to raise the age, at which children, who commit crimes, can be tried as adults from 17 to 18 years.
According to reports, the “Raise the Age” bill will take effect in 2019, provided Gov. Nikki Haley approves it. However, juveniles, who are convicted of certain crimes, will be excluded from the new bill.
About 41 other states, including Louisiana, Michigan, New York, and Wisconsin also plan to join “raise the age” of juvenile jurisdiction. In 2009, Connecticut was successful in raising the juvenile age jurisdiction from 16 to 18. Other states, such as Massachusetts, Illinois, New Hampshire and Mississippi also joined the suit.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards vowed to sign the “Raise the Age” bill in their state, if the House representatives vote in favor of the bill as well.
In a statement released April 12, Edwards wrote: “I support this measure because it is simply good public policy. With an eye toward public safety, research shows consistently that the juvenile justice system does a better job at preventing recidivism. That means fewer future crime victims, and less money spent on incarceration down the road.”
But what does it mean for young black youth as these states take a new step reduce racial discrimination and ethnic disparities? About 60 percent of youth sentenced without parole are African-Americans. “Raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction might keep teenagers in a system that’s more focused on rehabilitation and therapy”. This measure will help to curb mass incarceration of African-Americans though it won’t help to change the justice system, which is still biased against people of color. Mass incarceration of black youth should be stopped and rising the age of juvenile offenders is only the first step on the way to this goal.
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