Emerging Adult Justice Campaign

CfJJ is advocating to gradually raise the age of juvenile court jurisdiction to include 18-20 year olds. This reform will decrease crime, hold young people accountable, and help the Massachusetts economy.

CfJJ, in collaboration with Roca, UTEC, and other allies across the Commonwealth, recently launched a campaign to advance developmentally appropriate responses to "emerging adults" - young people aged 18 to 25 (LEARN MORE).  Among other reforms, legislation introduced in Massachusetts this session would hold justice-involved young people accountable in developmentally appropriate systems by gradually shifting the age of juvenile jurisdiction to include 18, 19, and 20 year olds.


What we are doing now doesn’t work:  Massachusetts spends enormous amounts of money locking up young people in the adult system, with terrible outcomes for young people and our communities. Shifting emerging adults into the juvenile system would lower recidivism and prevent deeper criminal justice system involvement.

The juvenile system would hold justice-involved emerging adults accountable while incorporating developmentally appropriate services like education, rehabilitative treatment, and vocational training, improving outcomes for both young people and community safety.Serious crimes would still be eligible for adult sentences.

The Massachusetts’ economy will benefit from this reform. An educated workforce is one of the state’s best assets. Because the criminal justice system disproportionately impacts young people of color at higher rates, the decrease in opportunity that results from system contact hits Black and Latino communities especially hard. This reform gives young people a better chance to grow up to contribute to their communities, helping to prevent intergenerational poverty.

Legislation to raise the age:

*S947 and H3037 also provide a path to expunge some juvenile records and raise the minimum age of delinquency court jurisdiction to exclude children under age 12.

**H3078 also raises the minimum age of delinquency court jurisdiction to exclude children under age 12.


Media coverage

Support for Massachusetts' campaign to raise the age to 21 has been highlighted in: