Raising the age will improve public safety, save taxpayer dollars, treat families fairly, and get better outcomes for vulnerable young people.  

Raising the age means including 17-year-olds in the juvenile justice system. Right now, Missouri automatically prosecutes all 17-year-olds as adults — even for the most minor offenses. That will change on January 1, 2021, when Missouri’s “Raise the Age” law, which passed last year, goes into effect.

How did it happen?

HB1255 and SB793 were filed for the 2018 legislative session. These bills supported bringing 17-year-olds into the juvenile justice system, holding kids accountable in juvenile court, while still allowing 17-year-olds accused of the most serious offenses to be prosecuted as adults. On June 1, 2018, SB793 was signed into law!

Passing “Raise the Age” legislation was just the beginning. Now the law must be implemented in a way that works for children, their families, and their communities.


People released from Missouri’s adult prisons are three times more likely to reoffend and go back to prison than youth leaving our juvenile facilities. Our adult three-year re-incarceration rate is 41.8%; our juvenile rate is only 13.7%. Our juvenile justice system is better at holding kids accountable and getting them on the right track.  

Percent decrease in the number of juvenile delinquency cases handled in Missouri's courts over the last ten years.  The number of admissions to juvenile prison has fallen by 47%, and the number of admissions to pretrial detention has fallen by 58%. Missouri has room in its juvenile justice system for 17-year-olds without spending new dollars.


Percent of 17-year-olds arrested in Missouri in 2015 who were accused of offenses that involved neither violence nor weapons.

States that have raised the age have shrunk their juvenile and criminal justice systems.  Fewer people in the justice system means cost savings.