A new study indicates 17 year-old offenders may not belong in Wisconsin's adult criminal justice system. The Wisconsin Council on Children and Families looked at 1,000 youth offenders from 2001, and the council's Wendy Henderson says the 1996 law requiring that they be treated as adults does not seem to have paid off.
Not only that, Henderson says youth offenders in the adult system can't get the kinds of intervention that could help them not reoffend — something that happened in seventy percent of the cases studied. Henderson says there's political will to change the law, but notes there will be costs attached. "What we don't want to see is 17 year-old returned to the juvenile system without any new money," she says. Henderson says Wisconsin is one of twelve states which places seventeen year-old in the adult justice system — no matter how minor the offense.