Ideally, New Jersey’s juvenile law system should serve not just to punish, but also to offer help to incarcerated young people. After all, the function of an effective penal system should be to reform those who have been convicted of crimes, not set them on a path of continued recidivism.

In certain circumstances, juveniles may even be tried as adults and placed in prisons with adult offenders. Such extreme punishment can make it difficult for a young offender to turn his or her life around. That is why the recently established reforms in the state’s juvenile justice system are such good news.

Thanks to the new reforms, a juvenile offender cannot be moved into an adult facility prior to reaching the age of 18. The minimum age had been 16. Other changes include decreasing the length of time that a juvenile may be kept in solitary confinement and increasing from 14 to 15 the age that a juvenile can be waved into an adult court.

In speaking about the new reforms, one assemblyman says that it is important for young people who are serving time in prison to have access to rehabilitative services including counseling and addiction treatment. And an assemblywoman says that putting a child in prison with adults is not conducive to promoting rehabilitation.

These changes are a step in the right direction toward helping juveniles get their lives back on track. But the fact is that the legal system can put a child in a dangerous and counterproductive environment. This is why if your child is facing criminal charges, you may wish to solicit the services of a New Jersey criminal attorney. By formulating a strong defense, the attorney may be able to help your child receive a reduced sentence or perhaps even have the charges dismissed.

Source: Paterson Times, “New Jersey lawmakers celebrate new reforms to the juvenile justice system,” Jon Franqui, Aug. 18, 2015