SPRINGFIELD, Mo.–Missouri is one of only five states in the country where 17-year-olds are prosecuted as adults, but that could soon change.
The legislature has passed a bill that would raise the age to 18, but 17-year-olds could still stand trial as adults in the case of certain serious offenses.
Bill Prince at the Greene County Juvenile Office says the change could impact 800 more youth in the county.
If the bill gets signed by the governor, the Greene County Juvenile Office will need five to seven more staff members to accommodate the additional juveniles it will serve.
It’s estimated the new bill could cost between 650 and $750,000 to implement in Greene County-an amount the county would primarily be responsible for paying.
Chief juvenile officer, Bill Prince is in agreement with raising the age in Missouri.
“Historically in Missouri, the juvenile offices have been in favor of raising the age for the most part because again there’s no difference really between a 17-year-old and a 16-year-old. You don’t magically obtain wisdom when you turn 17 and so we think it’s the right thing to do,” says Prince.
The bill still has to be signed by Governor Greitens before it becomes law.
Once that happens, it’ll go into effect in August 2021.