Upping juvenile criminal age to 18 may be Texas non-starter

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Sunday, March 1, 2015
Handcuffs and a judge's gavel

AUSTIN, TX -- Efforts are underway in the Texas Legislature to change a state law that automatically classifies 17-year-olds charged with a crime as adults, but they'll likely be halted by a senator who chairs a committee that would hear the bills.

Democratic Sen. John Whitmire says he "hasn't even thought about" whether his committee will have a hearing for bills that propose raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction to 18.

Texas' law has been in place since 1918, long before research revealed that a human brain isn't fully developed until age 25.

A bipartisan interim committee recommended the change, noting that state law as it stands is at odds with a federal law governing the housing of juvenile inmates. Last year, Texas was docked about $800,000 in federal funding for noncompliance.