Governor’s Juvenile Justice Commission Recommends Moving Juveniles from Adult System

The recommendation of the Governor’s commission supports a legislative proposal to move first-time nonviolent 17-year-old offenders to the juvenile justice system

November 30, 2015 | MacIver News Service

[Madison, Wisc…] The Governor’s Juvenile Justice Commission (GJJC) reaffirmed its recommendation to move 17-year-old offenders to the juvenile justice system. Wisconsin is one of nine states which automatically sentences all 17-year-olds as adults.

The GJJC is made up of individuals experienced with the juvenile justice system and which serves as an advisory commission for the Governor and the Legislature. The Commission voted unanimously to support returning 17-year-olds to the juvenile system, reaffirming a similar recommendation it made in 2013.

This recommendation is more broad than Senate Bill 280 (SB 280), which would return only first-time nonviolent 17-year-old offenders to the juvenile system. A bipartisan group of more than 70 legislators are co-sponsoring the legislation, which is currently awaiting a committee hearing.

GJJC cites several decades of research on brain development and adolescence as well as a pilot program in Outagamie County as the basis for its recommendation. That program showed that returning 17-year-old offenders to the juvenile system was not only the best practice but that it could be done cost-effectively, while providing better services to the community.

This conclusion will not come as a surprise to readers of the MacIver Institute. Back in 2013, a joint report from MacIver and the Texas Public Policy Foundation documented research that came to the same conclusion as the GJJC – namely that juveniles are much more likely to reoffend if they are transferred to adult criminal court. The joint report is available here.

Read the full recommendation from the GJJC here.