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SC 17-Year Olds Now Considered as Juveniles

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In South Carolina, when someone turns 17, they are considered an adult. However, a change in the law will soon consider 17-year-olds in SC as juveniles. During the summer of 2017, lawmakers voted to raise the adult cutoff age to 18 and older, starting in July 2019.

“I think the age change was a good idea. I’m 18, but I think if the age to be considered as an adult was 17, then that was too young. You need to grow and develop as a person, and, at 17, you are getting there, but, at 18, you are more mature,” says senior Dylan McDonagh.

Including SC, there are 43 states who now consider people the age of 17 as juveniles, and, currently, there are only a few states left that consider 17-year-olds to be juveniles. These are: Georgia, Michigan, Texas, and Wisconsin. Two other states, New York and North Carolina, consider 16-year-olds to be adults.

“When you are 17, you are kind of immature, so to get blamed and charged as an adult for doing stupid things at this age is not very fair, in my opinion. We still need to grow and mature more because we are still kind of young,” says senior Jordan Steele.

The change of law will help some 17-year-olds in legal situations. However, as of now, the law saying that you are an adult at 17 still stands. If you are one day away from being 17, you are given a chance to change your behavior, but if you commit a crime the day you turn 17, you will go straight to jail. This system is not designed for rehabilitation, whereas the new one will be, giving teens more time to mature and develop.

“It would be very beneficial to our state as a whole because it gives 17-year-olds a whole year to prepare themselves, and it will help them out a lot. I feel really good about this law change, but some of the 17-year-olds probably won’t be happy about it and they will be mad,” says sophomore Anna Jernigan.

Due to the change, South Carolina will need more money for budgeting the law. That being said, the Department of Juvenile Justice depends on the elected officials to give them more money when voting on the state budget. Before the law can be put into action, a higher budget and more staff is needed.

“Honestly, even though I am 18, I think that it is a good idea, but some teens will still defy the law because they want to dive right into adulthood and do adult things. Kids do not get to do everything that adults do, but they wish they could, so they will still do bad things,” says McDonagh.

The Department of Juvenile Justice, family courts, and all of the others programs that help to get children back on the right path will become larger. However, many people do believe that the increased workload and budget is worth it because it will help to get teens onto a path that will be good for them.

“Overall, I think that this is a very good change to the law. 17- year-olds are too young to be considered as adults, and I thought people were considered adults at eighteen everywhere, anyway. This was a good decision for our state,” says Steele.

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SC 17-Year Olds Now Considered as Juveniles