- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 12, 2016

BOSTON (AP) - The Massachusetts Senate has passed a bill designed to improve the state’s juvenile justice system.

Supporters of the bill approved Tuesday say it will help encourage rehabilitation, reduce recidivism by youthful offenders and ensure the fair treatment of children.

The bill would exclude very young children from delinquency proceedings by raising the lower limit of juvenile court jurisdiction from 7 to 11 years of age while making sure young children have access to services from the state Department of Youth Services.

The bill also bans the automatic shackling of children during court proceedings, codifies the constitutional right of indigent juvenile offenders to a lawyer and creates a process to expunge certain juvenile records for misdemeanors committed before age 18.

The bill now heads to the Massachusetts House.

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