Raising the age of criminal responsibility is not simply the right thing to do, it is a necessary thing to do. Today, Georgia remains one of three states undecided.  Without reiterating white paper research regarding psychological, mental, emotional, and physiological development in youth and its impact upon their ability to make sound judgment, our presentment on this topic is simple, throughout the United States, unless emancipated,

1.      You must be 18 to age-out of state custody (foster care).

2.      You must be 18 to enter college without parental consent.

3.      You must be 18 to be “independent” to declare financial aid for college or provide evidence that you are no longer subject to parental support.

4.      You must be 18 or older to be released of parental child support.

5.      You must be 18 to vote.

6.      You must be 18 to join the military.

7.      You must be 18 to drive without restrictions, curfew or parental/adult supervision.

8.      You must be 18 to enter into contract.

9.      [1]You must be 18 to marry or seek medical services without parental/adult permission.

10.  You must be 21[2] to legally smoke and purchase cigarettes.

11.  You be 21 to legally buy alcohol and drink.


But, in Georgia, Texas, and Wisconsin you  only have to be 17 years old to be automatically charged as an adult offender.

Today, at least 47 states have ‘raised the age’ of juvenile court jurisdiction to 17; most juvenile courts maintain jurisdiction of youth until the age of 21 if the youth is under a court order for deprivation or delinquency or is imprisoned based upon an order. These children are adversely impacted for life.  In Georgia, their records are not automatically expunged and most are denied restriction of their records.  These barriers impede life sustaining opportunities and impact, what AAJJP calls their HEMS [health, housing, education, employment, maintenance and support services].


[1] Unless emancipated

[2] Throughout most jurisdiction you must be at least 21 years of age, but not less than 18.

Under the adult system, police were limited to two options: Arrest a suspect and send them to court or don’t arrest and send them home. But the Illinois law meant greater leeway for handling 17-year-olds. Because they now are automatically treated as juveniles, police can send them to counseling, make them do community service, or simply make them write a letter of apology. http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/2017/05/31/how-raise-the-age-laws-might-reduce-recidivism

As a result of the law and other programs focused on rehabilitating troubled teens, the number of youth in the juvenile prison population has dropped from 1,195 to under 400 today, according to a Juvenile Justice Initiative analysis of Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice data.

A 2011 Vera Institute study found that if North Carolina raised the age to 18, the state would save $52.3 million a year.

After Connecticut passed its “raise the age” law in 2007, the state ended up spending slightly less on its juvenile justice system than it did before the age was raised, according to the Justice Policy Institute.

Georgia is requesting a study committee to assess the cost associated with #RaiseTheAgeGA.  Connecticut, New York and South Carolina are among 47 states to raise the age of juvenile court jurisdiction to 17 or 18 years old.  Here are some cost analysis and facts regarding implementation.

New York Budget

$19 million capital cost for detention in New York plus a contract with residential providers


NY Implementation Program

Emphasis on Probation Case Planning, Treatment, ReEntry, and Discharged and Supervisory Follow Up (Unlike GA who is focusing solely on incarceration of this population not Treatment and Rehabilitation)


Other Source AAJJP uses

NY Courts


CONNECTICUT (Raised the Age 10 years ago and now, they are seeking to Raise the Age to 21)


Based programming. Because of this shift from expensive out-of-home placement or incarceration to community and evidence-based programming, overall spending on juvenile justice in Connecticut decreased, even after the age was raised. Expenditures went from in $139 million 2001-2002 to $137 million in 2011-2012.*


How was public safety affected?

Youth crime dropped in Connecticut after Raise the Age, following a national trend. Older adolescents had lower recidivism rates and showed other signs of being more successful in juvenile programming than youth under age 16.


Arrest of people under 18 in Connecticut Declined After Raise The Age



SOUTH CAROLINA (AAJJP uses a neighboring state)


Quoted Interview with State Legislators and Officials in South Carolina

“Are we funding additional district attorneys that juvenile cases require?”

Lassiter: Yes. There are 23.5 additional positions in HB 280’s fiscal note.

In addition, in the Senate budget, an additional 37 assistant district attorney positions will support existing needs.


Gladwell: Please see the Legislative Fiscal Note for HB 280, page 32-33.


What additional facilities would be needed to raise the age?

Rep. McGrady: One of the differences of opinion between legislative staff and the Department is over what additional facilities would be needed. Mr. Lassiter can speak for the Department and the fiscal note shows what legislative staff thought.

Lassiter: Fiscal Research is recommending a 96-bed facility. The Department is recommending a 60-bed facility, with the possible addition of a second 60-bed facility as population trends warrant.

The cost associated with building two 60-bed facilities is comparable to building one 96-bed facility.

To reduce capital costs to the State, the Department is working with counties who have expressed an interest in providing the needed detention center beds to implement this policy. This saves the state a lot of capital costs.