Justice for Kids

CfJJ, in partnership with a statewide coalition, is advocating for a juvenile justice omnibus bill covering ten issues that would promote transparency, best practices, and better outcomes for children and communities.  Senator Karen Spilka and Representative Kay Khan are the lead sponsors of this omnibus legislation.

The Juvenile Justice Omnibus bill reclassifies offenses and diverts kids with low level offenses from formal system processing in order to save money, reduce crime, and promote best practices to get kids on the right track.  A significant percentage (up to half) of the youth incarcerated or detained in Massachusetts have a misdemeanor as their most serious offense.  These youth could be served better in the community at far lower cost.

Keeping kids out of the juvenile justice system who don’t belong there:

  • Creates pre-arraignment diversion by judges for young people committing low-level offenses; FACT SHEET
  • Excludes 7 to 11 year olds from the jurisdiction of the juvenile justice system; FACT SHEET
  • Decriminalizes violations of town ordinances and other offenses that were decriminalized for adults; FACT SHEET
  • Decriminalizes disturbing lawful assembly and disorderly conduct in school to prevent school-based arrests for school discipline issues; FACT SHEET and FACT SHEET 2
  • Decriminalizes consensual sexual activity between adolescents, by creating an exception to the statutory rape law for youth close in age; FACT SHEET

Advocating for a fair and effective juvenile justice system: 

  • Requires the various juvenile justice agencies, with guidance from the Office of the Child Advocate, to collect data on youth at various stages of the JJ system, including data on race and ethnicity; FACT SHEET
  • Creates a Juvenile Justice Policy and Data Commission to evaluate juvenile justice policies and study the implementation of major policy changes; FACT SHEET
  • Improves sealing and allows for the expungement of certain juvenile records; FACT SHEET
  • Raises the age of juvenile court jurisdiction to include 18, 19 and 20 year olds in a more developmentally appropriate justice system; FACT SHEET and FACT SHEET 2
  • Creates a parent-child privilege so parents can help their children in the court system without being forced to testify about these conversations; FACT SHEET
  • Codifies the juvenile court’s policy ending indiscriminate shackling, and codifies the Department of Youth Services' model solitary confinement policy; FACT SHEET
  • Allows courts to consider age as a mitigating factor in cases involving young adults (18-25 year olds) FACT SHEET

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