Passed in 2019, House Bill 1646 allows young people sentenced in adult court for crimes committed under age 18 to go to Juvenile Rehabilitation (JR) until age 25. Before the bill, JR residents had to transfer to the Department of Corrections (DOC) on their 21st birthday to serve the rest of their sentence. If sentenced after age 18, youth used to have to go directly to DOC, but can now go to JR.
As part of the bill, DCYF also worked with DOC to create a process for identifying eligible individuals to transfer from DOC to JR. "The partnership with the DOC was absolutely fabulous. The communication was on point, visits to prisons were well-organized and the partnership continues to be a solid one," said JR Program Administrator Debbie Lyne.
These transfers were originally slated to begin in March. However, with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, transfers began in June. "We had to be sure we could accommodate these youth and provide them with educational and vocational opportunities," said Debbie.
So far, two female youth successfully transferred to Echo Glen in June, and six young men transferred to JR institutions in July. DCYF has weekly DOC transfers scheduled through the fall. "We have 35+ young people on their way and anticipate even more as additional Legislature is developed and passed," said Debbie. "The young people who have already transferred are doing great and are thankful."