JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Rep. Nick Schroer is looking to get the ball rolling quickly with his “Raise the Age” legislation, a bill he had previously filed during his first session as a state legislator.
The Republican state representative from O’Fallon will once again be submitting the legislation when prefiling begins on Friday, Dec. 1, where Schroer intends to hold a press conference on the issue.
Under the proposed legislation, 17-year-olds would be included in the state juvenile justice system, allowing courts to assign them to that system instead of automatically prosecuting each 17-year-old as adults. Missouri is just one of five states still doing so.
If the legislation is passed, it would still allow minors who have been charged with serious crimes to placed in the adult court system.
Schroer says the legislation is needed for several reasons.
“Missouri’s juvenile justice system is better equipped to hold 17-year-olds accountable and to get them on the right track,” he said, noting that the point is to rehabilitate those convicted and prevent future repeat offenders.
Schroer says that by raising the age, it will save taxpayer dollars by cutting down the number of repeat offenders, and also notes that the state’s juvenile justice system has more room and resources for 17-year-olds – without spending new dollars.
Schroer also says the bill is good for families, as it still allows for a parent to be part of the process when a 17-year-old is arrested and charged. Currently, parents have no rights to notice or participate in the interrogation or court process.
The representative says that states that have enacted this legislation have either saved taxpayer dollars or have spent no new money as they have made their states safer, lowered crime statistics, and preserved parental rights, and says it is time Missouri joins those states.
This story originally appeared on The Missouri Times.