Resolution to Treat 17-Year-Olds As Juveniles

Resolution in Support of Presumptively Treating 17 Year-olds in the Juvenile Justice System


This Resolution recognizes that 17-year-olds, who typically are juniors and seniors in high school living with their parents, should be presumptively treated as juveniles in the justice system.

Resolution to Treat 17-Year-Olds As Juveniles

Whereas, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is committed to developing effective criminal justice policies that create safe communities for citizens as well as strong state budgets; and

WHEREAS, in more than 80 percent of states 17-year-olds are presumptively processed in the juvenile justice system; and

WHEREAS, 17-year-olds are typically juniors and seniors in high school living with their parents; and

WHEREAS, state juvenile justice systems typically allow for most types of offenses to be eventually be sealed if the person subsequently is law-abiding while an adult criminal record presents a significant obstacle to an individual’s ability to obtain employment, housing, and education, particularly given the proliferation of mechanisms for performing far-reaching background checks; and

Whereas, research has found that 17-year-olds are less likely to recidivate when placed in the juvenile system, which generally provides smaller caseloads, greater access to rehabilitation, and closer collaboration with families and schools; and

Whereas, 17-year-olds are far more likely to be physically and sexually abused if places in adult prisons; and

Whereas, only the juvenile system ensures that the parent or guardian is contacted upon arrest and given the right to participate in court proceedings; and

Whereas, states that have recently raised the age such as Connecticut and Illinois to bring 17-year-olds in the juvenile system have experienced positive results; and

WHEREAS, states have procedures for trying youths as adults, which generally apply to the most serious crimes, and such provisions would similarly apply to 17 year-olds if they are presumptively treated as juveniles;

Therefore Be It Resolved that [insert state here] should join more than four-fifths of all states in presumptively treating 17-year-olds as juveniles by passing legislation to raise its age of juvenile jurisdiction.

Approved by Task Force in December 2015