JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — By unanimous vote, the Missouri Senate approved a bill that would raise the age of juvenile prosecution for most criminal offenses.
Currently, 17-year-old Missourians are prosecuted as adults. Senate Bill 793 would raise the minimum age for prosecution in courts of general jurisdiction to 18 — unless the accused is already certified as an adult or is charged with a traffic or curfew violation.
The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Wayne Wallingford, R-Cape Girardeau, believes this measure would humanize the Missouri court system, while also making it more efficient. In a press conference held March 8 immediately following the bill’s passage, he noted how the criminal justice system often fails to rehabilitate those it punishes.
“The recidivism rate for people in the juvenile justice system is a lot better than putting them in the criminal justice system,” Wallingford said. “In the criminal justice system, people say it’s kind of like a graduate school for criminals.”
Senate Bill 793 awaits further debate in the Missouri House of Representatives. The state legislature has until May 18, the end of its 2018 regular session, to take action on the bill. If approved by the House, the measure would need the governor’s signature or a two-thirds veto override from both chambers to be enacted into law.
As a multimedia specialist for the Missouri Senate, I created a short video package on the legislation’s passage. View the video below, and be sure to visit the Missouri Senate website for daily updates on state government news.