New Jersey Reforms Juvenile Justice Program
State lawmakers and local officials on Tuesday celebrated a series of juvenile justice reforms that took more than a year to craft and were signed into law last week.
The reforms come amid national focus on the criminal justice system following abuses on youths uncovered at Rikers Island in New York and the death of a Texas woman in a jail cell in June. And overhauls are one of the few issues that most, if not all, candidates in the 2016 race for president can find consensus.
The changes signed by Governor Christie last week are considered progressive in their approach to handle juvenile offenders, focusing more on rehabilitation instead of severe punishment.
The new law limits the amount of time a youth offender may spend in solitary confinement – now called “room restriction” – to no more than five consecutive days and no more than 10 total days in a month. It also raises the minimum age an offender can be waived into adult court, from 14 to 15. The 30-day period to evaluate cases is also raised to 60 days. But the new law will permit those older than 15 charged with serious crimes, like murder and robbery, be waived into adult court.