Lawmakers Pass Bill Raising Age to Transfer Juveniles to Adult Prison

(KIRO 7)

(KIRO 7)

By Hanna Scott, MyNorthWest

About 5 percent of kids behind bars end up in the state juvenile rehabilitation facility. These are kids convicted of serious crimes in adult court, such as 1st degree robbery, manslaughter, murder, and gang shootings.

Under the current law, they’ve been kicked over to adult prison at 18 or 21 years old. But now, a new bill just passed by the Legislature will keep them in a juvenile rehabilitation facility until they’re 25.

Democratic Rep. Roger Goodman, who chairs the House Public Safety Committee, admitted he had concerns when he looked at an Oregon law a few years ago, and learned they were keeping their younger offenders in juvenile lock up until they turn 25.

The concern?

“If a 23 or 24-year-old is a bad influence on the 18 or 19-year-old,” he said. “But we found exactly the opposite, that those youth who have committed some pretty serious crimes, if they’re kept in the rehabilitative setting, they really start to turn their lives around.”

“Instead of a bad influence, they’re positive mentors,” he added.

Armed with that knowledge, Rep. Goodman got to work on the bill to establish that policy here in Washington, and it was approved by the Legislature this year.

Goodman said that keeping these young offenders in juvenile rehabilitation until they’re 25 also avoids the downside of sending them to adult prison.

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