A Providence, R.I., judge yesterday dismissed felony charges against 115 teenagers during the 130 days when the state prosecuted 17-year-olds as adults, reports the Providence Journal. He refused to dismiss the second-degree murder indictment of the state's most high-profile “gap kid,” Ryan Greenberg. Superior Court Judge Daniel Procaccini held four indictments in abeyance pending Family Court hearings on whether those teens should be sent back to Superior Court and tried as adults. He said dismissing the indictments would produce an inappropriate and “drastic” result, while dismissing the other charges would not.
“It is apparent,” Procaccini wrote, “that defendants' rights were violated by their direct placement in the adult criminal system.” In July, the state legislature adopted Governor Donald Carcieri's proposal to save money by treating 17-year-olds as adults in criminal matters, assuming that adult prisons would prove cheaper than the juvenile training school. Savings turned out to be questionable, at best, and on Nov. 7 the legislature repealed the law. The repeal was not retroactive, however, so that created a population of about 500 teenagers charged as adults between July 1 and Nov. 8.