A bill pending before the Minnesota legislature would allow judges to try children as young as 10 as adults in the state. A growing body of evidence shows that adult trials and long periods of incarceration are not the answer for children convicted of crimes, even the most violent crimes.
While terrible crimes are sometimes committed by young people, there is little benefit to society by punishing kids for actions they don't fully understand. Treatment and rehabilitation are never more important than when the defendant is a child. Tell members of the Minnesota House Committee on Public Safety, Crime Prevention Policy and Finance that "Emily's Law" is a counterproductive proposition and that state resources could be much better spent on treatment and services for young people and crime victims.
Strong evidence has shown in recent years that community treatment and rehabilitation programs are far more effective for even children convicted of violent offenses than adult trials and long sentences. Community rehabilitation changes the paths of lives, reducing crime in society and saving critical resources for needs like education. Missouri is an example of a state that has achieved this success, greatly reducing recidivism among children convicted of crimes and saving millions of taxpayer dollars in the process.
My heart goes out to the families of crime victims, and I don't deny that young children have committed some terrible offenses in the state. I simply don't believe families of victims, young defendants or the people or Minnesota are best served by an adult prosecution and a long sentence for a child in fifth grade. Adult courts are simply not equipped to handle the unique challenges presented in the prosecution of a child.
You have the opportunity now to redirect resources that would go into adult prosecutions under Emily's Law to instead fund education, treatment and rehabilitation across Minnesota to prevent crime and serve the public.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter.