AP reported last week.
It's worth noting, as the Statesman report did, that "Even if the law were to consider 17-year-olds to be juveniles, the worst offenders could still be certified as adults and tried in the adult system." LBJ School instructor Michele Deitch told that committee that, "In Texas, any felony committed at age 15 and older can lead to adult certification; the eligible age drops to 14 for capital murder and other serious crimes." Further:
According to Deitch:I'm going to try to watch the lengthy hearing online soon and may have more to say on the subject after I've heard the whole thing. This was an "interim charge" given the committee by the Speaker of the House and the Lege won't consider legislation on the topic until 2015.
- Teens in the adult criminal justice system are 36 percent more likely to commit suicide and 34 percent more likely to be rearrested for a felony than those who stayed in the juvenile justice system.
- Teens have needs that the adult system is not designed to meet. Most are in high school, many were victims of abuse and 70 percent of youth in custody have a mental illness.
- In 2012, the vast majority of arrested 17-year-old Texans were charged with misdemeanors and nonviolent crimes — theft, marijuana possession, nonaggravated assault and disorderly conduct were the top four — at rates that were little different from 16-year-olds.
Let me know in the comments what you think are the potential benefits and drawbacks of changing the age at which youth are charged as adults.
MORE: See testimony (pdf) from the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition's Elizabeth Henneke.