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Mississippi Raises Minimum Age of Commitment to 12

March 30, 2021
Abigail Grifno

Campaign Update: Mississippi Raises the Minimum Age of Commitment to 12

Congrats to NJJN member, Southern Poverty Law Center in Mississippi for their role in helping to pass Senate Bill 2282. The bill is a huge landmark for Mississippi youth justice advocates that raises the minimum age of commitment to 12 years old. Prior to the bill’s passage children could be committed to state training schools or detention facilities at as young as ten years old.

The win is part of a larger wave of legislation that seeks to end the criminalization of very young children. States across the country are currently considering proposals to increase the age at which youth can be sent to juvenile court, detained, and committed all generally referred to as “minimum age laws”. Over the past few years, California, Massachusetts, and Utah, have each set the highest minimum age for juvenile court jurisdiction at 12 years old.  Mississippi now joins the fold by ensuring children under 12 cannot be  committed to youth facilities.  The Mississippi bill does not contain any carve outs and will become effective on July 1, 2021.

Recognizing the numerous negative repercussions on children’s wellbeing, advocates across the nation are working tirelessly to raise their states’ own minimum age laws.  Momentum is building with eleven states currently considering minimum age laws. These include Texas’ HB 1430 which seeks to raise the minimum age to 12 (from 10) and the upper age to 20, and New York’s SB S4051 which seeks to raise the minimum age from 7 to 12.

We applaud Mississippi for leading the way and look forward to seeing where the current movement to implement minimum age laws takes root next.

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