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BOSTON – Gov. Deval L. Patrick has signed legislation that raises the age of juvenile jurisdiction from 17 to 18, opening up more opportunities for the state’s youth, at-risk population, the governor said in a news release.
The legislation expands the delinquency and youthful-offender jurisdiction of the juvenile courts to include persons who commit crimes when they are younger than 18. The new law also provides for 17-year-olds to be ordered into the custody of the Mass. Department of Youth Services, rather than into an adult prison or jail. In the case of violent criminal activity, though, the Juvenile Court will retain the discretion to impose an adult sentence. The law also provides that 17-year-olds will no longer receive an adult criminal record and that they will benefit from other safeguards provided to juveniles. •