Scott vetoes bill raising age of ‘youthful offender’

‘Youthful offenders’ being recruited for crimes, governor says

Details of Jack Sawyer’s attempted school shooting were kept from the public because Sawyer, was a treated as a ‘youthful offender.’ Gov. Scott vetoed a bill this week raising the age of public accountability for crimes.

By Guy Page

On May 20, Governor Phil Scott vetoed a bill that raises from age 19 to 20 the age of public accountability for crimes.

“We need to step back and reassess Vermont’s ‘raise the age’ policy,” Scott said in a letter to the Vermont Senate explaining the veto. 

S107, as passed by the Legislature, would prevent a public agency from releasing any information about the arrest or charge of a person less than 20 years old. Current law shields persons less than 19 years old. Scott also said the State of Vermont has failed to deliver on promises to provide rehabilitation, services and housing for young adults at risk of being in the criminal justice system.

Scott’s letter to the Senate appears below: 

I am returning S.107, An act relating to confidential information concerning the initial arrest and charge of a juvenile, without my signature, because of concerns with the policy to automatically raise the age of accountability for crimes, and afford young adults protections meant for juveniles, without adequate tools or systems in place.  

Three years ago, I signed legislation intended to give young adults who had become involved in the criminal justice system certain protections meant for juveniles.  At the time, I was assured that, prior to the automatic increases in age prescribed in the bill, plans would be in place to provide access to the rehabilitation, services, housing and other supports needed to both hold these young adults accountable and help them stay out of the criminal justice system in the future. 

This has not yet been the case. In addition to ongoing housing challenges, programs designed and implemented for children under 18 are often not appropriate for those over 18.  Disturbingly, there are also reports of some young adults being used – and actively recruited – by older criminals, like drug traffickers, to commit crimes because of reduced risk of incarceration, potentially putting the young people we are trying to protect deeper into the criminal culture and at greater risk.

I want to be clear: I’m not blaming the Legislature or the Judiciary for these gaps. All three branches of government need to bring more focus to this issue if we are going to provide the combination of accountability, tools and services needed to ensure justice and give young offenders a second chance. 

For these reasons, I believe we need to take a step back and assess Vermont’s “raise the age” policy, the gaps that exist in our systems and the unintended consequences of a piecemeal approach on the health and safety of our communities, victims and the offenders we are attempting to help. I see S.107 as deepening this piecemeal approach.

I also remain concerned with the lack of clarity in S.107 regarding the disparity in the public records law between the Department of Public Safety and the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Based on the objections outlined above, I am returning this legislation without my signature pursuant to Chapter II, Section 11 of the Vermont Constitution. I believe this presents an opportunity to start a much-needed conversation about the status of our juvenile justice initiatives and make course corrections where necessary, in the interest of public safety and the young Vermonters we all agree need an opportunity to get back on the right path.

 Scott signed the following bills:

  •  H.421, An act relating to animal cruelty investigation response and training.
  • S.1, extending the baseload renewable power portfolio requirement. This bill continues power subsidies for the Ryegate biomass power plant. 
  • S.66, electric bicycles, ensures that electric-powered bicycles are treated as bicycles and not motorcycles for licensing and law enforcement purposes. 
  • S.102, regulation of agricultural inputs for farming. This bill allows compost and food scraps to be brought onto farms and used for agriculture. 
  • S.124, miscellaneous utility subjects: raising the cap on penalties for Public Service Board violations; raises to 185% of federal poverty level the requirement for low-income energy assistance; outlines the state role in overseeing non-federal dams; allows Public Service Board to extend Standard Offer (power subsidies) for projects at its own “good cause” discretion.

To view a complete list of action on bills passed during the 2021 legislative session, click here.

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Categories: Legislation

5 replies »

  1. I wish that the State of Vermont would decide on one age at which a citizen is deemed to be sufficiently mature to be endowed, or saddled with all of the benefits, and responsibilities of being an adult. This crap of different ages for different responsibilities is at best, confusing. If you are old enough to be killed on the battlefield, shouldn’t you be old enough to buy a beer ? If you aren’t old enough to buy a beer, and understand the consequences of drinking, are you old enough to understand the responsibilities, and subsequent consequences of voting ? Is this really that complicated ?

    • It’s called “cherry picking” of course. C’mon Patrick, on behalf of the left, we’ll go through this again:

      1. Unborn babies do not matter whatsoever.

      2. Children as young as 5 should “cut their teeth”, so to speak, on all the intricacies of human sexuality including, but not limited to: Oral and anal sex, homosexuality, and all forms of depravity which should be preferably instructed by drag queens who mockingly attempt to “ape” women but do not actually resemble them in the slightest.

      3. The “age of reason” is 15, but ONLY when voting – in violation of the Constitution.

      4. The age of being responsible enough to have your extremities blown off or get yourself killed in any eternally-waging war being fought for reasons unknown is 18.

      5. Buying cigarettes or alcohol necessitates one being 21.

      And of course in addition to the varying ages, please remember that people “of color” (once termed “colored” but never, ever say that) are essentially free to engage in robust & wide-ranging criminality, while whites are not.

      Women used to be a protected group until the left decided fairly recently that they are better off utilizing their “life experience” to service men in brothels now as legalized prostitution comes to VT. Remember…Maine is “vacation land” & Vermont is “red light district”.

      Please try to grasp these basic yet debauched standards that these degenerates in the VT Legislature have concocted.

      If you find yourself becoming confused, use LOTS of drugs, as those people apparently have and still do.

      You’re welcome!

  2. According to the snowflake left, being “young” carries some level of victimhood and “vulnerable” status with it. Another manifestation of the victim worship of the left is in restoring the voting rights of convicted felons. If re-enfranchising those who have demonstrated their lack of respect for society’s laws should be embraced, then why not restore their gun rights as well? After all, the pen is mightier than the sword…

      • Not sarcasm. If it is appropriate to disenfranchise a convicted felon of their gun rights, then it makes total sense to deny voting rights. They have EARNED their status as a second class citizen.