Raise the age for mandatory prosecution as an adult from 17 to 18, allowing non-violent offenders who are 17 years of age to be charged as a minor.
- Texas is 1 of 9 states to send all 17-year-olds accused of a crime to adult criminal justice system. 41 other states treat 17-year-olds as juveniles.
- In adult system, 17-year-olds are subjected to a lifetime of collateral consequences.
- Adult criminal record creates barriers to getting an education, gaining employment, securing housing, and joining the military
- When 17-year-olds are arrested in Texas, they are treated as adults
- Law enforcement is not required to inform parents of a 17-year-old of their arrest
- At age 17, parents do not have right to be involved in the court process
- 17-year-olds fare better in juvenile justice system
- According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, teens who are transferred from juvenile court system to adult criminal justice system are approximately 34% more likely to be re-arrested for violent or other crimes than youth kept in juvenile court system.
- Teens are not considered to be adults until they turn 18, but 17 year olds in Texas must be charged as an adult for ANY criminal offense of which they are accused.
- 18-year-olds are able to vote, join the military, and buy a lottery ticket, and they are no longer covered by compulsory school attendance law 17-year-olds do not have any of these privileges.
- In adult system, 17-year-olds are subjected to dangerous conditions
- Physical/Sexual Violence: Teens held in adult facilities face high risk of assault
- 2/3 reported being sexually victimized by other inmates
- Suicide Risk: Teens in adult facilities are 36 times more likely to commit suicide than those in juvenile facilities
- Solitary Confinement: Federal Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) requires 17-year-olds to be separated from adults to ensure their safety in adult correctional facilities, so teens in adult facilities can spend up to 23 hours per day in solitary confinement, which can lead to physical and psychological harm.
- Youth benefit from more age appropriate interventions and incarceration in a juvenile facility when necessary rather than an adult prison
- Focus of juvenile justice system is on rehabilitation, providing youth with tools they need to avoid further interactions with justice system.
- Change to Texas law would leave in place the certification process by which prosecutors can charge youth (14 and up) with violent crimes.
- 96% of 17-year-olds arrested in Texas in 2013 were arrested for nonviolent, misdemeanor offenses.
- Raising age of criminal adulthood to 18 will necessitate expanding juvenile facilities, generating a cost to the state.