This year, the top juvenile justice priority for us and many other advocates is raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction so 17-year-old Texans are no longer sent automatically to the adult justice system when they are caught shoplifting or make other mistakes.
Senator Bryan Hughes recently filed SB 941 to make the juvenile system the default for 17-year-olds while maintaining the option to certify youth as adults when deemed appropriate. Reps. Harold Dutton and Gene Wu have filed similar bills, HB 122 and HB 676, respectively. You can thank them by emailing Bryan.Hughes@senate.texas.gov, Harold.Dutton@house.texas.gov, and Gene.Wu@house.texas.gov.
We've also been pleased to see so many voices speaking out in favor of this effort. Our friends at Texas CASA recently wrote a column explaining that raising the age is key to supporting children in foster care. And in the last few days the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and San Antonio Express-News added their voices to the chorus of support.
Certainly there are still obstacles to passing the bill, including securing funding for the change, but we are glad to see growing support for this effort to keep 17-year-olds safe and on a path to success while improving public safety.