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Change In Law Raises Arizona's Juvenile Court Jurisdiction From 18 To 19

A bill signed by Gov. Doug Ducey will allow young people charged with a crime to stay in the juvenile court system longer.

MORE:  Bill Raising Juvenile Court Age Moves Through Legislature

Previously, when someone in the juvenile court system turned 18, the juvenile court would lose jurisdiction over the youth. A change in state statute increases that age to 19.

The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office and public defenders spoke in favor of the increase in jurisdiction at the Legislature this year.

In a statement, Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said the change will allow his office to adjudicate and supervise a juvenile in juvenile court. "In the past, our options were limited the closer they were to 18," Montgomery said. "Now, we can file the case in juvenile court and supervise the case there up to the age of 19."

Beth Rosenberg with the Children’s Action Alliance says youths were being prosecuted as adults because there was not enough time to deal with them in the juvenile justice system.

“Then they have a criminal record," Rosenberg said of the impact of going though the adult system. "Sometimes it’s hard to get a job — they can’t get scholarships for school. There’s lots of things that prevent them from moving on to be responsible adults."

Rosenberg believes the extended jurisdiction could potentially impact hundreds of cases each year.

“This provides the opportunity for those kids who’ve possibly committed crimes under the age of 18 to be treated in the juvenile justice system, as they should be.”

Rosenberg believes the extended jurisdiction could potentially impact hundreds of cases of young offenders each year.

"They need to be treated as kids," Rosenberg said, "which is what they are."

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Jimmy Jenkins is a senior field correspondent at KJZZ and a contributor to NPR’s Election 2020 and Criminal Justice station collaborations. His work has been featured on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Marketplace, Here and Now, The Takeaway and NPR Newscasts.Originally from Terre Haute, Indiana, Jenkins has a B.S. in criminology from Indiana State University and a master’s degree in journalism from Indiana University.Much of his reporting has focused on the criminal justice system. Jenkins has reported on Tasers, body cameras, use of force, jail privatization, prison health care and the criminal contempt trial of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.