In 2016, the South Carolina Legislature unanimously passed legislation to raise the age of juvenile court jurisdiction (S. 916) so that a majority of 17-year-olds would no longer automatically be treated as if they were adults in the criminal justice system.
Passing this legislation was incredibly important. Youth in the adult criminal justice system are more likely to commit suicide, more likely to experience physical and sexual abuse while incarcerated, and more likely to reoffend because they have not been rehabilitated in the adult system. An adult criminal record carries dozens of collateral consequences that will follow a teenager for the rest of his or her life.
The legislation to raise the age will not be implement if the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) does not receive “necessary” funding to implement the law. On Wednesday, January 24th at 10am in Room 110 of the Blatt Bldg in Columbia, SC, DJJ will present its budget request to the Law Enforcement Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee. DJJ has requested over $55 million dollars to build and staff new youth prison facilities to implement raise the age in the first year alone. Join us at the hearing to express concern over the DJJ’s budget.
And sign our petition to tell the Law Enforcement Subcommittee Members that investing in cost-effective, evidence-based community programs for youth is what is “necessary” to implement raise the age and appropriately rehabilitate South Carolina’s youth.