A Minimum Age for California’s Juvenile Legal System: Lessons on Collaborative Research to Drive Legislative Change

Online Publication Date:
January 9, 2023
Publication Status:
Published Article MUSE Link:
Manuscript PDF File:


**Published in Progress in Community Health Partnerships (PCHP) 17.3. All rights reserved.**

The Problem: Most US states lack a minimum age of juvenile legal jurisdiction, which leaves young children vulnerable to a harsh, punitive system that causes lifelong adverse health and social outcomes. However, partnership between academics, advocates, and policymakers can catalyze legislative change to set minimum ages.
Purpose of Article: We, an academic pediatrician and social worker, describe our stakeholder-policymaker-academic partnered research that led to the passage of California Senate Bill 439, which excludes children under age 12 from eligibility for juvenile legal prosecution. To stimulate future efforts, we also describe how the initial partnership led to a national coalition through which we are partnering with stakeholders across the US to influence minimum age laws nationwide.
Key Points: Stakeholder-policymaker-academic partners can contribute synergistically in the research-to-policymaking process.
Conclusion: Through a stakeholder-policymaker-academic partnership, we were able to influence the passage of a minimum age law for the juvenile legal system in California. Lessons learned in this collaboration can be applied by researchers across disciplines who wish to influence policy.

ACCOMPANYING EDITORIAL: Leveraging Collaborative Partnerships to Protect the Human Rights of Children Involved in the United States’ Juvenile Justice System, by Melissa Coretz Goemann and Mikah Owen.