Since 18 is the age of majority for Texans in other aspects — deemed mature enough to marry, vote and enlist in military service on their own, for instance — it makes little sense to view a 17-year-old as mature enough to weather adult trial, sentencing and imprisonment.
This is exceedingly arbitrary.
Raising this threshold would coincide with Texas’ need to comply with the Prison Rape Elimination Act, or PREA, which includes a requirement that those under 18 be separated from the adult prison population.
This requirement does not occur in a vacuum. Youths younger than 18 are abused sexually and physically more often than those older, University of Texas Professor Michele Deitch told McGaughy. And they are 36 times more likely to commit suicide.
Gov. Rick Perry has resisted complying with PREA. That must change in the new administration. We note, however, that the 14 youths who were 17 in the Bexar County Jail last week were separated from those 18 and older.
Texas can rightly crow about its progress on criminal justice. It should add raising the age of an adult, when it comes to being prosecuted for crimes, to 18.
Tuesday, January 13, 2015
Will PREA spur Texas Lege to raise age of criminal culpability?
Editorial writers at the SA Express-News think (Jan. 12) that pressure to comply with the Prison Rape Elimination Act may spur the Texas Legislature to raise the age at which criminal defendants may be charged as adults for their crimes. The staff editorial concluded: