Rhode Island legislators yesterday reversed their much-criticized decision to send 17-year-old lawbreakers to an adult prison instead of a training school, reports the Providence Journal. Critics, ranging from the Family Court to the attorney general's office to the American Civil Liberties Union, arguied that the law passed in June was not cost-effective and was bad public policy. Lawmakers did not make the bill retroactive, meaning that 17-year-olds charged from July 1 through yesterday will continue in the adult courts, facing harsher penalties.
They include 49 17-year-olds put in adult correctional institutions since July 1. Corrections Director A. J. Wall said 17-year-old inmates would be held at the high-security “super max” unit for their protection, at an average cost of more than $100,000 a year.