It was a long time coming, but on Tuesday both the Massachusetts House and Senate removed the last hurdle to giving Massachusetts’ state judges a well-deserved, and long awaited salary increase. To approve the judicial pay raise, the House and Senate rejected an amendment from Governor Patrick.
The $30,000 pay raise will take effect in two equal installments; the first increase will be effective January 1, 2014 and the second increase will be effective July 1, 2014.
In other State House news, the Senate unanimously passed the juvenile jurisdiction bill on Tuesday. This bill will raise the age of jurisdiction for juvenile offenders to 18. Research has shown that the brain of a 17-year-old is still in its developmental stages and segregating youthful offenders from adults in our criminal justice system will prevent juveniles who are sentenced from being put in the same environment as older and more serious offenders.
This new legislation will make it possible for 17-year-old offenders to be processed in juvenile court rather than the adult court system. Right now a 17 year old accused of a crime in Massachusetts is automatically treated as an adult regardless of the circumstances or severity of the offense. However, 17-year olds who are charged with serious crimes like murder will still be tried as adults.
The bill passed the House in May and is expected to be on Governor Patrick’s desk for his review soon. Governor Patrick has already expressed his support for this legislation; when signed, Massachusetts will join 39 other states, as well as Washington D.C. and the federal government, that already consider 18 as the age of adult criminal jurisdiction.
With work on the budget finished, it is not expected that the House or Senate will meet in formal session again until September.
– Kathleen Joyce
Director of Government Relations
Boston Bar Association