A one-year change in Missouri’s juvenile law is going to have to wait one more year for another chance at passage.

Seventeen is an awkward age, a time when someone is too old to be considered a juvenile although they sometimes do juvenile things. Because they’re 17, parents don’t have the control over them that they have over juvenile children.

Juveniles are sometimes charged with "status offenses"—some things that would be considered crimes if the children were old enough to be adults.

Mount Vernon Senator Jack Goodman tried to change the law so juvenile courts would still have jurisdiction until a person is 18. He says the bill would have given parents another year to work with their children and would have given the juvenile system another year to provide supervision and counseling that could keep the young person from landing in adult prisons later.

Another effect of the bill would have been to let parents and juvenile courts keep children from dropping out of school at 16–which present law allows. Although the present law would remain, the bill would have let juvenile courts require continued attendance in school as a condition of probation.

However, the bill died on the last day of the session when the House failed by four votes to accept changes the Senate had made in the bill. The measure got a majority of the votes cast in the House, but came up short of getting the needed majority of all House members.


Download Bob Priddy’s story (:60 mp3)