NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

December 21, 2013

NH House considers raising juvenile delinquent age

Eds: Updates with more details of proposal, quotes from lawmakers and police chief, background on law in New Hampshire.

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — New Hampshire is considering joining 40 other states and the federal government in treating 17-year-olds accused of crimes as juveniles instead of adults.

The House will vote on a bill next month that reverses a 1996 law that lowered the juvenile delinquency age from 18 to 17.

State Rep. Dan Itse, a Fremont Republican, said the teens are still of an age when they can be rehabilitated if sent to the state reformatory instead of prison. He said the reformatory has empty beds for the young offenders.

Itse said the change also will help the state comply with federal laws requiring inmates under 18 to be separated from older inmates.

Goffstown Police Chief Pat Sullivan said police chiefs oppose the change.

"What we have is currently working," Sullivan said.

He said law enforcement already is keeping 17-year-olds separated from older inmates in compliance with federal rules. Sullivan also argues that teens should know the difference between right and wrong by age 17.

"When we see crimes committed with weapons or an assault, there's got to be a level of accountability. Citizens need to feel safe," he said.

Raising the age would mean that crimes committed by 17-year-olds no longer would become part of an adult criminal record. Prosecutors would retain the right to ask a judge to certify a 17-year-old as an adult for major crimes. The Legislature has rejected attempts to raise the age in the past.

New Hampshire lowered the age from 18 in 1996 in response to arguments that criminals in Massachusetts were sending 17-year-olds into New Hampshire carrying drugs. If the Massachusetts teens were caught in New Hampshire, they were put through the juvenile system.

Text Only | Photo Reprints

Port Pics
AP Video
Two Women Narrowly Avoid Being Hit by Train In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast New Sanctions on Key Sectors of Russian Economy Crayola Announces Family Attraction in Orlando US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating
Special Features