Major Cities Chiefs Association Approves Policy Statement on Removing Youth from the Adult Criminal Justice System
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 8, 2017
Campaign for Youth Justice
Aprill Turner, Communications Director
Phone: (202) 821-1604
Major Cities Chiefs Association
Darrel Stephens, Executive Director
On May 31, 2017, the Major Cities Chiefs Association (MCCA), a professional organization of police executives representing 69 of the largest cities in the United States and 10 of the largest cities in Canada, adopted a formal policy statement on the treatment of youth in the adult criminal justice system.
The policy statement highlights key issues with the treatment of youth as adults, specifically, the prevalent research on the impact of adolescent brain development and adverse childhood experiences on the decision making process, behavior, and rehabilitative capacity of youth who come into contact with the system. The policy statement also cites the high rates of sexual and physical victimization for youth in adult jails and prisons, and the 34 percent increased likelihood that youth will reoffend if they are prosecuted as adults rather than juveniles.
In its policy position section, MCCA states that “[j]uvenile courts should have original jurisdiction over youth under the age of 18 for matters involving delinquent behavior. Youth under the age of 18 should not be automatically transferred to the jurisdiction of the adult court based solely on their age…There should be a strong presumption that juvenile courts have original and exclusive jurisdiction over youth under the age of 18 unless evidence to the contrary is presented to the court by the prosecuting attorney.”
The statement continues that “[t]o the extent possible under the law youth should be held in juvenile justice facilities instead of adult facilities. There should be a strong presumption that youth can be held in juvenile facilities unless evidence to the contrary is presented to the court by the prosecuting attorney.”
Marcy Mistrett, CEO and President of the Campaign for Youth Justice, a national campaign dedicated to the removal of youth under 18 from adult courts, jails, and prisons applauded MCCA’s strong stance. “I really commend the membership of the Major Cities Chiefs Association for their strong position on youth in the adult system. This statement is proof that law enforcement, community, advocates, and other stakeholders can collaborate and come to consensus on effective strategies to rehabilitate youth and to keep our communities safe. I hope other stakeholders will come to the table on youth justice and follow the strong example they MCCA has set on this issue.”
Darrel Stephens, Executive Director of MCCA said, “The evidence was clear to MCCA members that youth are not well served in the adult criminal justice system. The policy recognizes that while providing for access to the adult system based on an assessment of the individual need of the youth.”
Major Cities Chiefs Association (MCCA) is a professional association of Chiefs and Sheriffs representing the largest cities in the United States and Canada. MCCA membership is comprised of Chiefs and Sheriffs of the sixty-nine largest law enforcement agencies in the United States and ten largest in Canada. They serve 81.9 million people (70.4 US and 11.5 Canada) with a workforce of 185,183 (163,244 US and 21,939 Canada) officers and non-sworn personnel. MCCA was formed in 1949 to provide a forum for executives to share ideas, experiences and strategies for addressing the challenges of policing large urban communities
The Campaign for Youth Justice, based in Washington, DC, is dedicated to ending the practice of trying, sentencing, and incarcerating youth under 18 in the adult criminal justice system.