TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senators Joseph F. Vitale and John A. Girgenti that would revise the circumstances under which juveniles who have been arrested can be placed in county juvenile detention centers has received final legislative approval.
“There is something wrong when a kid who steals a bicycle is locked up beside a juvenile sex offender,” said Senator Vitale, D-Middlesex. “This measure would help find other placement for juvenile offenders who commit less serious crimes. These kids should be held responsible for their actions, but they shouldn’t be placed with kids who have been charged with committing more harsh offenses.”
“The bill would help protect kids who have been charged minor crimes,” said Senator Girgenti, D-Bergen and Passaic, who chairs the Senate Law, Public Safety and Veterans Affairs Committee. “By locking these kids up with other juvenile offenders who have been charged with more serious and dangerous crimes, we are in essence, placing them right into the lion’s den, where they could be seriously harmed. All offenders deserve to be punished, but we must also develop standards based on the seriousness of the crimes committed.”
The Senators’ measure, S-2927, would establish that most juvenile offenders who have been charged with minor fourth degree crimes would be sent to shelters or be released to their parents prior to posting bail after being arrested.
Currently, juvenile offenders who are charged with committing minor offenses can be placed in to detention centers.
This measure was approved by the Senate on January 5. It now heads to the Governor’s desk where his signature would make it State law.