On March 7, the Justice Policy Institute released a report that looks at 10 years of data to show how states across the country have raised the age -- including 17-year-olds in the juvenile justice system -- while reducing crime and saving taxpayer money.
Just last year, Louisiana and South Carolina raised the age. Now, Missouri is one of only five states that automatically send every 17-year-old to criminal court, even for the most minor offenses.
In 2017, the Missouri legislature is considering House Bill 274 and Senate Bill 40, which would bring most 17-year-olds into the juvenile justice system while still allowing the most serious offenders to be prosecuted in criminal court.
The report shows that states have consistently overestimated the costs and underestimated the savings that come from raising the age. For instance: Connecticut raised the age from 16 to 18, and now actually spends LESS on juvenile justice than it did before raising the age.
Raising the age is a good investment because holding 17-year-olds accountable in juvenile court ensures that they get the services and supports they need to turn their lives around. And kids who finish school and get good jobs stop committing crimes, which builds the economy and saves taxpayer money.
The full report is here.
The executive summary is here.