Home State News Evers Seeks to End Charging 17-Year-Olds as Adults

Evers Seeks to End Charging 17-Year-Olds as Adults

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Waupun Correctional Institution (Lauren Furhmann/Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism)

Governor Tony Evers promised during his campaign to greatly reform Wisconsin’s criminal justice system. The State of Wisconsin has some of the worst racial disparities in terms of minority incarceration in the nation, particularly where juveniles are concerned.

Since January of 1996, Wisconsin has employed the practice of charging 17-year-olds as adults. At the time, lawmakers thought that the prospect of going to adult prison or jail would serve as a deterrent for youthful offenders.

But Evers has included in his budget reforms that will send 17-year-olds back to juvenile court. Evers is also seeking to keep the Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake youthful offender facilities open while new facilities can be built to hold juveniles.

Wisconsin is one of only four states in the country that charges 17-year-olds as adults.

“I proudly support the budget initiatives announced by the Governor for further investment in our juvenile justice system,” said State Representative Evan Goyke. “Seventeen-year-olds are not adults and shouldn’t be in the adult criminal justice and adult prison systems. Wisconsin is an outlier… Lincoln Hills will close without question and we must do everything we can to ensure this transition is done correctly. Wisconsin’s youth and their families are counting on us.”

Goyke has worked for years on reforming Wisconsin’s corrections system on many levels. Goyke says that Tony Evers’ directives bring greater expertise and investment by the State to make sure the new youthful offender facilities are done correctly.

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