Gov. Deval L. Patrick has signed into law Massachusetts Bar
Association-backed legislation, which raises the age of juvenile
court jurisdiction from 17 to 18 years old. The law, initially
filed as House Bill No. 1432, received unanimous approval from both
the House of Representatives and the Senate.
"The Massachusetts Bar Association commends the governor, the
House of Representatives and the Senate for rectifying the inequity
of treating 17-year-olds as adults, regardless of the crime or
circumstances surrounding their arrests," MBA Chief Legal Counsel
and Chief Operating Officer Martin W. Healy said. "This is more
than just common sense; this is an important and much-needed change
that ensures 17-year-olds are placed in a more effective
Over the past few months the MBA had pushed strongly for this
change in Juvenile Court jurisdiction, because it allows the
commonwealth's youngest offenders the opportunity to become
productive and successful citizens through the rehabilitative
nature of the Juvenile Court.
The new law segregates young offenders from the adult criminal
system, which will prevent juveniles who are sentenced from being
mixed with older and hardened serious offenders. The new law also
protects 17-year-olds by bringing them under the juvenile system's
procedural safeguards, which were not available when they were
treated as an adult.