HB 274 has been placed on the calendar for the House Judiciary Committee public hearings.
Currently Missouri law incarnates children who have been charged as adults in adult prisons. While they have been charged with serious offences, these children have not yet been convicted of a crime. HB 274 would require children to be prosecuted in juvenile courts unless the child is certified as an adult or is being prosecuted for a traffic or curfew violation. Additionally, the bill specifies that no person under the age of 18 may be detained in an adult jail unless the person has been certified as an adult. Please contact the House Judicial Committee and urge them to SUPPORT HB 274.
Children who commit serious crimes should be held accountable for their actions. However, incarcerating children charged, but not convicted, in adult facilities is a sentence in itself. Children are not the same as adults and until they are found guilty should be afforded extra protections. When children are incarcerated in adult prisons they face a dramatically increased danger of sexual assault and have higher risks of suicide. These facilities do not afford children the opportunities of education and rehabilitation services available in the juvenile detention system. Instead of working to rehabilitate these children when their mental development is at its’ capacity to learn we are teaching them to be hardened criminals.
The Missouri Model has long been the national model with regard to state juvenile justice systems. This allowance to house charged but not convicted children with adults is a flaw we need to recognize and correct. Please vote yes on HB 274 to keep kids 17 and younger out of adult prisons.
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VP Legislation and Advocacy