AUSTIN – The Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Director of the Center for Effective Justice, Marc Levin, issued the following statement concerning SB 1630, which aims to reform the juvenile justice system by increasing accountability and helping to keep youth out of the adult corrections system. The amendment is the subject of negotiations between the House and Senate on an amendment to raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction.
“We are pleased to stand with Texas sheriffs, the Texas Home School Coalition, the Texas Association of Business, and many other allies in supporting the amendment to Senate Bill 1630 that will lay the groundwork for bringing 17 year-olds into the juvenile justice system. The amendment, which is at issue in a conference committee that was convened on Friday, would raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction in 2017, but only if the next budget includes an implementation provision.
“Raising the age will strengthen Texas families and advance the principle of limited government by ensuring high school students are not thrown in with hardened career criminals. It is wrong that Texas parents are not notified if their 17 year-old high school student is arrested and do not have a right to participate in their court proceedings. Moreover, in Texas, 17 year-olds are covered by the compulsory school law and a parent’s obligation to pay child support extends until their child reaches 18.
“Studies have proven the juvenile justice is also more effective in reducing recidivism among 17 year-olds, partly because it works closely with the family and high schools. Research shows that 17 year-olds are exponentially more likely to commit suicide and be sexually assaulted when placed in adult lockups. Raising the age will also bring significant savings for county jails seeking to comply with the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA).
“TPPF published a joint report with the MacIver Institute, TPPF’s counterpart in Wisconsin, recommending raising the age which highlights the relevant research. Wisconsin, along with Texas, is among less than one-fifth of states that do not place 17 year-olds in the juvenile system. If the age was raised in Texas, 17 year-olds who commit felonies could still be certified to stand trial as adults, a procedure that is typically used in the most serious cases.”
For more information or to schedule and interview with Mr. Levin, please contact Caroline Espinosa at [email protected].
Marc A. Levin is director of the Center for Effective Justice at the Texas Public Policy Foundation.
The Texas Public Policy Foundation is a non-profit, free-market research institute based in Austin, Texas.