By Ted Goldberg
There's bipartisan support for adoption of that age in criminal cases
New Jersey is one of 24 states that does not have a minimum age on the books for criminal responsibility, which leaves the door open for young children to potentially be punished through the criminal justice system. Legal experts and human rights advocates have long argued this lack of a minimum age could cause children to have their lives derailed for actions they may not fully understand.
The United Nations has called on countries to adopt a minimum age of 14 for someone to face criminal trial. A bill moving through the State House with bipartisan support would adopt that minimum age for New Jersey’s legal system.
“Cognitively, they do not reach full developmental or cognitive capacity until they are at least 14 and actually somewhere between 14 and 16 with regard to their judgment, their decision-making, the executive functioning that allows them to make good decisions,” said Laura Cohen, director of the Rutgers Criminal and Youth Justice Clinic.
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