The Missouri legislature attempted to pass SB 1 but it was struck down in the house, this would have mandated any child as young as twelve who is charged with a gun-related crime to have an adult certification hearing. Children do not belong in adult prisons. With your work and phone calls letting MOLEG know that you wanted reforms and not more kids locked up. A new bill HCS 12 was proposed and passed out of the Criminal Justice Reform Committee.
- When this legislation was introduced it was a step backward for juvenile justice, today we can say that Missouri has changed course. If passed in its new form this legislation will halt certification hearings for children as young as 12 and raise the bottom age for certification as an adult to 16 years of age.
- If passed in its NEW form (HCS 12), Missouri will join 35 other states in having a probable cause hearing BEFORE a child is considered for juvenile certification.
- With this AMENDED BILL Missourians will get clear data on if juveniles have robust access to counsel. Every child should have access to an attorney before they make life-altering decisions.
- Children do not drive crime and they are poorly served by the adult system. With the reforms in this legislation, we affirm common-sense measures to treat kids as kids.
- Within the juvenile system, there are more resources including drug treatment and addiction services than within the adult system. A hearing is NOT a condition to receive services.
- With these changes, we have prevented the creation of more Bobby Bostic's. We know that judges are not infallible and they know that too. Judge Baker, who sentenced Bobby Bostic, a 16-year-old to 241 years, wrote of SB 1 (the original version of HCS12) “The Missouri Senate is considering SB 1, which would mandate that any juvenile, children as young as twelve, charged with a crime involving a firearm come before a judge for a certification hearing. That hearing determines if, in the eyes of the law, we see a child or an adult. It is a horrible idea to make this process mandatory. If you bring more children before judges to determine their future, you will end up with more mistakes, more kids behind bars, and more childhoods derailed by one judge’s whim.”
- In MO’s 2019 Annual Report from the Division of Youth Services (DYS) noted that 42% of the youth committed to DYS had a history of prior mental health services and 44% had a prior history of substance abuse involvement. These kids need proper resources to address these issues, NOT incarceration. They deserve access to resources to create opportunities for them to thrive.
- Expanding juvenile certification harms public safety. HB 12 will decrease the number of certifications. Children prosecuted as adults – traumatized and denied the educational and rehabilitative services available in the juvenile system – have a 34% higher recidivism rate than those who remain in the juvenile system.
- Missouri’s Juvenile Justice System has been hailed across the country for its dedication to Restorative Justice principles and practices. This body passed “Raise the Age” legislation in 2018 that is set to go into effect in early 2021. This legislation raised the age of adult offenders to 18 years old from 17 years old. We knew in passing that bill it was the right move for kids to get them access to resources. We shouldn’t turn our back on that now.
- According to the MO Juvenile and Family Division Annual Report, in 2017, 74 percent of Black youth in Missouri who went through the juvenile certification process were certified to be tried as adults vs. compared to 26 percent of their white peers. This is not equal protection under the law.
We wrote a letter to the Missouri Legislature opposing Senate Bill 1
Dear Governor Parson, Senate President Pro Tem Schatz, and House Speaker Haahr
We, the undersigned, write to urge you to reject legislation being considered during the special session that will lead to more children being prosecuted as adults, a practice which decades of evidence has shown is harmful to children, their families, and their communities, and is responsible for increased recidivism and worse public safety outcomes.
The proposed legislation – SB 1 – requires a certification hearing for children accused of a wide variety of firearms offenses. If the purpose of the special session is to enhance public safety, this proposal would do the opposite, while inflicting incalculable harm on Missouri’s children.
Children are five times more likely to be sexually assaulted and two times more likely to be beaten by staff in adult facilities than in juvenile facilities. As a result, children incarcerated with adults are five times more likely to commit suicide than those who remain in the juvenile system. And those children who survive are more likely than adults to suffer permanent trauma from these ugly experiences.
Missouri legislators should not seek to expand the number of children subjected to these kinds of abuses.
Disturbingly, this legislation, if enacted, would be applied disproportionately against Black children. Missouri court data in 2017 showed that Black children were almost six times more likely to be certified as adults than white children.
Missouri legislators must refrain from passing legislation that will exacerbate the already stark racial disparities in our justice system.
Expanding juvenile certification will also harm public safety. Children prosecuted as adults – traumatized and denied the educational and rehabilitative services available in the juvenile system – have a 34% higher recidivism rate than those who remain in the juvenile system.
Just two years ago, the Missouri legislature clearly recognized how counter-productive and harmful the prosecution of children as adults can be, when it passed the landmark “Raise the Age” reform. Driving support for “Raise the Age” was a bi-partisan agreement that it was best to keep children in the juvenile system that was designed to hold them accountable with education, therapy, and rehabilitation programming that is mostly absent from the adult system. Two years ago, Missouri legislators recognized that the adult system is simply not equipped to handle the needs of children or to ensure that they don’t return to criminal activity once released.
We urge Missouri legislators to remember these lessons and reject legislation that will increase the prosecution of children as adults. To address an increase in gun offenses in Missouri, we recommend a study to determine and understand the underlying reasons for that increase, and to then develop appropriate and effective policy responses. Expanding the eligibility of children to be certified as adults will not solve the problem, and in fact will only make it worse.
Sara Baker, Policy Director, American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri
Nila Bala, Associate Director, Criminal Justice & Civil Liberties, R Street Institute
Kristian Blackmon, Regional Organizer, Campaign for Youth Justice
Johnda Boyce, Attorney, Kansas City, Missouri
Tricia Rojo Bushnell, Executive Director, Midwest Innocence Project
Coalition Against Police Crimes and Repression
Johanna Fisher, Kansas City, Missouri
Major Neill Franklin (Ret.), Executive Director, Law Enforcement Action Partnership
Chief Betty Frizzell (Ret.), Winfield Police Department, Winfield, Missouri
Rev. Cassandra Gould, Missouri Faith Voices
Stan and Kelly Greer, Parents of 15-year-old certified as an adult who committed suicide
H. Martin Jayne, Associate Professor Emeritus, Justice Systems, Truman State University
Sarah Johnson, Director of Juvenile Defense and Policy, Missouri State Public Defender
Adelaide Lancaster, Co-Founder and Director of Strategy, We Stories
Jeanette Mott Oxford, Director of Policy & Organizing, Empower Missouri
Cathy Rauch, First Unitarian Church of St. Louis, Toward Justice Group
The Sentencing Project
Donnell “Malik” Simms
Kathryn Turner, Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine
Carla Weise, President, Missouri PTA
Rev. Dr. Dietra Wise Baker, Lead Organizer, Break the Pipeline Campaign, Metropolitan Congregations United