On June 10, 2016

Law to create more rational juvenile justice policies, governor says

Gov. Peter Shumlin June 1 signed a law to  more closely align Vermont’s juvenile justice system with brain development research and best practices for serving young people who interact with the criminal justice system. Vermont is one of the few states where 16- and 17-year-olds are currently charged in criminal court as adults for any offense, including misdemeanors. The new law will change that, allowing juvenile offenders to be tried in family court.

In 2010, Gov. Shumlin ran on a promise to create a more rational criminal justice system to reduce recidivism rates and save Vermonters money. The governor has delivered on that promise, reducing Vermont’s incarceration rate to the lowest point since the early 2000s. H.95, which the governor signed June 1, builds on that progress by aligning state policies to studies that have shown youth are much more amenable to treatment and rehabilitation.

“Ultimately, the goal is to avoid treating juveniles as adults, with the exception of the most serious offenses, and to mitigate major collateral consequences for youth charged in adult court, including a public record, exclusion from the military, and ineligibility for college loans. These are things that seriously hamper a young person’s chances for success later in life,” said Gov. Shumlin.

The law takes effect incrementally, and by July 2018 officially raises the age of youthful offender status from 17 to 21 years of age. In addition, the States Attorneys have the option to refer a youth to a Department of Children and Families (DCF) approved community-based restorative 1justice program in lieu of filing charges in family court.

“DCF appreciates the collaboration with legislators and stakeholders that has made this bill possible. Vermont will now have a juvenile justice system that reflects the latest in brain development science and that allows youth who’ve committed minor offences alternative consequences to a criminal record,” said DCF Commissioner Ken Schatz.

The bill also takes major steps in reforming the supervision of young people under state custody by extending the age of DCF supervision for youth under the jurisdiction of the Family Division to age 19.5. Incarcerated youth who are ages 18 through 25 may now only be housed in a Department of Corrections facility dedicated to youth.

“Creating a more rational criminal justice system is not only the right thing to do; it is the smart thing to do,” Gov. Shumlin said. “These reforms will increase a youth’s chance of success. It’s common sense. I want to especially thank Senator Sears who took up this bill and made the issue of reforming juveniles justice in Vermont a top priority this legislative session.”

Do you want to submit feedback to the editor?

Send Us An Email!

Related Posts

Five local organizations receive grants from Vermont Women’s Fund

June 19, 2024
The Vermont Women’s Fund at the Vermont Community Foundation announced the recipients of its 2024 annual grant round, June 17. A total of $365,180 was awarded to 36 organizations across Vermont; five of which went to organizations in Rutland or Windsor County.  “The work these organizations do improves the lives of women and girls across…

Castleton Elementary School’s Carl Cougar crowned Slate Valley’s mascot champion

June 19, 2024
Castleton Elementary School’s Carl Cougar has been crowned champion of the first Slate Valley Mascot Madness competition for the 2023-24 school year. Superintendent Brooke Olsen-Farrell presented the honors to Carl on Friday morning, June 14. The awarded trophy was designed and created by Middle School student, Deshawn Ingram, who used both the 3D printer and…

Chloe Masillo and Sophia Nisimblat recognized for excellence

June 19, 2024
The winners of two local scholarship awards, sponsored by the Greater Killington Women’s Club, were recently presented at the Woodstock Union High School Senior Awards Night ceremony. The Club disburses two $1,000 awards to graduating seniors each year.  The Sherburne Academic Award is presented to a Killington or Pittsfield resident with the highest weighted GPA…

New England Cider Donuts opens in Ludlow

June 19, 2024
The grand opening of New England Cider Donuts at 29 Main St. in Ludlow was recently celebrated with a ribbon cutting. The new shop will offer local coffee, breakfast sandwiches, assorted baked goods, in addition to delicious cider and specialty donuts. In the summer it’ll also offer ice cream sundaes. Pictured: David Bennett, owner, cuts…