Advocates applaud softening of juvenile justice in bill

Activists are applauding as a step in the right direction a package of juvenile-justice provisions included in a comprehensive Massachusetts Senate proposal to reform the state's criminal-justice system, a sentiment not shared by a majority of the state's district attorneys. The proposal that would raise the age of adulthood to 19, create close-age exceptions to statutory rape and indecent assault and battery offenses, decriminalize certain offenses for juveniles that aren't criminal for adults and add more liberal provisions concerning juveniles' ability to seal or expunge criminal records, among other provisions. The Senate bill has advanced to the House, where Speaker Robert DeLeo has said he anticipates his chamber will take up its own plan within the next two weeks to enable a conference committee to begin work before the Legislature's 2017 session ends on Nov. 15.