A Missouri lawmaker will pre-file legislation in December to raise the age of juvenile court jurisdiction.

State Rep. Nick Schroer (R-O’Fallon) speaks on the Missouri House floor in March 2017 (photo courtesy of Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Missouri’s Joint Committee on Justice System heard testimony Tuesday in Jefferson City on State Rep. Nick Schroer’s proposal to raise the age.

The O’Fallon Republican testifies that Missouri currently prosecutes all 17-year-olds as adults, regardless of the crime.

“The teens that are funneled into the adult prisons do not have access to the same rehabilitative services that juvenile justice system provides,” Schroer says. “And adult prisons can be extremely dangerous for teens.”

Schroer tells Missourinet he hopes 2018 “is the year we stand up for the youth and the taxpayer in Missouri.”

“People released from Missouri’s adult prisons, by statistics, are three times more likely to re-offend and go back to prison than youth leaving juvenile justice facilities,” Schroer says.

While the Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys (MAPA) is not opposed to Schroer’s plan, they have concerns.

Cole County Prosecutor Mark Richardson (R) testifies adult certification is key for cases like murder and rape. Schroer’s proposal would still allow adult certification.

Supporters of raising the age of juvenile court jurisdiction in Missouri say it would keep teens safe and save taxpayer dollars. Backers also say Missouri is one of five states that has not raised the age.

Some organizations testified Tuesday, for informational purposes.

One of them was the Missouri Sheriffs’ Association. They testify that Schroer’s proposal would simplify things, adding that few Missouri 17-year-olds go to prison, unless it’s for a violent crime like murder.

The Schroer bill would make Missouri 17-year-olds charged with crimes fall within juvenile jurisdiction.

State Rep. Joe Don McGaugh, R-Carrollton, chairs the Joint Committee on Justice System.

“Other states have done it with pretty good success and it is about, you know, we know young people make bad decisions. We want them to be productive members of society in the long run and that’s really what we’re talking about,” McGaugh says.

Pre-filing for the 2018 session begins on December 1. The first day of session is January 3.

Click here to listen to the full interview between Missourinet news director Brian Hauswirth and Chairman Joe Don McGaugh, R-Carrollton, which was recorded on September 12, 2017: