Testimony to the Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence
Texans Care for Children strongly urges the committee to maximize opportunities for youth rehabilitation and success by focusing our juvenile system on serving teens – keeping younger children out of the justice system and preventing older teens from entering the adult system.
Change the classification of ALL 17-year-olds to the juvenile justice system.
Most Texas youth turn 17 years old during their junior year of high school. There is no automatic trigger in their brain that makes them mature overnight when they turn 17 and all research indicates that indeed their brains are still developing. When they wake up on their 17th birthday, they are not adults. They can’t legally buy cigarettes or alcohol; drop out of school; vote or serve on a jury. They still need a parent’s permission to get married or to join the military. But if they make the same mistakes they were prone to make the day before, they can land in the adult criminal justice system; while their classmates who have not yet celebrated their 17th birthday would have the opportunity to turn their lives around in the juvenile justice system.