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June 8, 2015
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Dear Honorable ,

S-2003 and A-4299 make key changes to New Jersey’s juvenile justice system – changes that are based on sound scientific research.

The research is clear. The brain does not fully develop until a person is in his early 20s. That’s why teens and young adults are more likely than older people to take risks and make mistakes. The areas of the brain that control impulse and emotion are still growing.

Because of this, we, as a society, need to treat juveniles who commit crimes differently than adults. We can still hold them accountable, while equipping them with the skills they need to stay out of trouble.  It is also more likely that these youth, given the right supports and treatment while in state custody, will mature into productive adults. A-4299 and S-2003 aim to accomplish these critical goals that can benefit the state as a whole.

Sponsors of these bills met with all stakeholders to resolve any initial concerns and objections. No opposition was expressed at the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee hearing last week and no opposition was expressed at the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee hearing on May 12, 2015.

S-2003 passed in the Senate by a 24-10 vote. VOTE YES on A-4299!
The amended versions of these bills revise state law in the following areas:

  • Raises the age at which a teen can be transferred or “waived” to adult court for trial from 14 to 15.
  • Gives the prosecutor more time to investigate and make an informed decision on whether to apply for waiver. 
  • Presumes that juveniles will serve any custodial sentence in a juvenile facility, rather than an adult facility.
  • If a juvenile who is waived to adult court is subsequently convicted of a crime that does not qualify for waiver, the juvenile can be “waived back” to Family Court for sentencing.
  • Provides juveniles with due process protections in the event of an administrative transfer from juvenile to adult facilities.
  • Imposes restrictions on the use of solitary confinement/room restriction of juveniles.
  • Establishes data collection and reporting requirements concerning the use of juvenile waiver and the use of solitary confinement/room restriction.

Please call us if you have any questions regarding this legislation.
VOTE YES on A-4299! Thank you!


Cecilia Zalkind                           
Executive Director

Mary Coogan
Assistant Director

Advocates for Children of New Jersey

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