Minor Transgressions, Major Consequences:
A picture of 17-year-olds in the Massachusetts criminal justice system

December 2011

This report examines the state's policy of sending all 17-year-olds accused of a crime to the adult criminal justice system, a practice that makes kids more likely to reoffend and threatens their safety.

The report points to numerous national studies that find youth sent to the adult system are more likely to reoffend and to escalate to more serious crimes than those in the juvenile system.  Research also shows that minors held in adult facilities are at high risk of committing suicide and of being physically or sexually assaulted. In the report, Massachusetts teens recount being strip searched in adult facilities and learning to look up to adults imprisoned for serious crimes, including murder.
"Our current system is costly, not just for the kids and families involved, but for all Massachusetts taxpayers," the report says. "Higher crime means stretched police resources, increased court and jail costs, and more expenditures to help victims of crime. In the long run, losing more children to crime also means fewer high school graduates and taxpayers, and more consumers of public benefits, substance-abuse services, and other safety-net resources." 

For a copy of the complete report, click HERE