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Federal legislation boosts Raise-the-Age prospects in Texas

December 18, 2018

Texas is one of only four states which still charges 17 year olds as adults. But new federal legislation awaiting President Trump's signature will soon prevent the Lone Star State from housing 17-year olds in adult county jails, providing a big incentive to change their status to match 92% of other states and the federal government.

Read the entire article at Grits For Breakfast. 

New bill would put 17-year-old inmates in juvenile detention center instead of jail

December 18, 2018

 A bill headed to the president's desk could mean big changes for the way children are treated in the justice system. One of the first places to see change will be the Travis County Jail. “So, we have 17 year olds in our jail,” said Kristen Dark, the senior spokeswoman for the Travis County Sheriff’s Office, which runs the jail. There are 14 inmates under the age of 18 today. The number usually hovers around 20. Even though they are not yet old enough to vote, they are considered adults.

Read the entire article at CBS Austin

The Texas Juvenile Justice Department is making great changes, and 17-year-olds should benefit too

October 15, 2018

Thanks to changes by Camille Cain, executive director of the Texas Juvenile Justice Department, children housed in youth justice facilities now get proper sleep and healthy snacks throughout the day. In addition to promoting healthy child development, "These changes also set the stage for future initiatives aimed at helping youth learn to regulate their own emotions, responses and behaviors," Cain said in a press release.

Read the entire article at the Dallas Morning News


September 11, 2018

On July 16th,  Texas Criminal Justice Coalition's Policy Attorney, Lindsey Linder, traveled to Durham, North Carolina, to attend the National Juvenile Justice Network’s annual conference. While there she joined dozens of people from around the country who had gathered to hold a vigil in honor of Niecey Fennell, a 17-year-old girl who died while being held in the adult detention center.

Read the entire article on the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition's blog

“They’re just setting those babies up for the penitentiary”: How minor offenses feed overcrowding at Houston youth jail

February 2, 2018

Across Texas, kids are getting into less trouble with the law even though the state population is exploding. So why is Harris County's juvenile detention center bursting at the seams? 

Read the rest of this article The Texas Tribune.


In crisis, Texas Juvenile Justice Department looks to an unconventional new leader

January 26, 2018

With no experience working directly with incarcerated kids, Camille Cain is an unconventional choice to be the new director of the Texas Juvenile Justice Department. But experts hope she'll be well-suited to handle problems like staffing shortages and a sexual abuse scandal. 

Read the rest of this article at The Texas Tribune.

'That would break us': Raising age of responsibility would create massive influx to juvenile lockups

January 19, 2018

AUSTIN — Texas is unlikely to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 17 to 18 next year, a top state official has predicted, to the dismay of juvenile justice advocates. 

Read the rest of this article at The Dallas Morning News.

Should Texas Change the Law to Keep 17-Year-Olds Out of Adult Prison?

November 2, 2017

Do 17-year-old offenders belong in adult prison? Would there be benefits to raising the age of responsibility to 18 instead?

Read the rest of this blog post at the Goolsby Law Firm's blog.

Should Texas change law to keep 17-year-olds out of adult jails?

October 23, 2017

The Texas Criminal Justice Coalition wants lawmakers to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 17 to 18 in the 2019 legislative session.

Read the rest of this article at KXAN.

Texas Advocates and Legislators Show Support for Juvenile Justice

October 20, 2017

A group of juvenile justice reform advocates hosted a press conference at the Texas Capitol today as part of Youth Justice Action Month calling for a new commitment to juvenile justice reform in Texas.

Read the rest of this press release here.

Texas Goes Big on Youth Justice Reform

October 12, 2017

NJJN’s Texas members, the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition (TCJC), Texas Appleseed and Texans Care for Children were successful in their collaborative efforts to pass legislation focused on dual-status youth, confidentiality of juvenile records, 10 and 11 year olds in the juvenile justice system and the suspension and expulsion of kids in early grades.

Read the rest of this post at the National Juvenile Justice Network.

Raise the age from 17 in criminal cases

July 24, 2017

During the past 10 years, Texas has made incredible progress both in reducing the number of individuals incarcerated and in creating alternative programs for low-risk offenders. This progress, including mandatory sex offender rehabilitation and supervision programs, have contributed to decreased recidivism rates in Texas.

Read the rest of this op-ed at the San Antonio Express-News.

Let's stop condemning children to adult lives in prison

June 22, 2017

Christopher L. was 16. Had the Chicago media deemed his alleged crime salacious enough, they would have printed his full name. They revealed the full names of other kids at the jail where I worked as a guard in the late 1990s.

Read the rest of this op-ed at Dallas News.

Raise the age, or pay the price

May 18, 2017

Once again, the Texas House of Representatives has passed a thoughtful proposal to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 18 from 17.

Read the rest of this article at TribTalk.

Rep. Dutton: If "raise the age" bill dies in Senate, he'll kill Senate bills

May 11, 2017

State Rep. Harold Dutton Jr., D-Houston, has set his crosshairs on Senate bills Wednesday after learning that a major criminal justice reform bill that he authored was not only languishing in the upper chamber but appeared to be left for dead.

Read the rest of this article at The Texas Tribune.

Raise the age: Texas' 17-year-old offenders don't belong in prisons with adults and that should change.

May 10, 2017

A 17-year-old reportedly committed suicide in January while in custody at the Fort Bend County Jail. Jail staff found the teen - charged with aggravated robbery involving a pellet gun and evading arrest - hanging in his cell, as reported by KPRC-TV.

Read the rest of this editorial at the Houston Chronicle.

Guest commentary: Raise the age to lower crime

May 9, 2017

Most 17-year-olds are in high school. Their parents still ground them, and they have to ask to borrow the car. Besides being able to get into R-rated movies, they possess the same adolescent freedom as 16-year-olds. Yet, in Texas, 17-year-olds are prosecuted as adults and housed in adult correctional facilities.

Read the rest of this op-ed at the Tyler Morning Telegraph.

Texas Lawmakers Want To Allow 17-Year-Old Offenders To Be Tried As Juveniles

April 27, 2017

Texas is one of six states that tries 17-year-olds as adults. But a new bill wants Texas to follow the national trend of raising the age of criminal responsibility from 17 to 18.

Listen to an interview with Rep. Gene Wu at KUT 90.5 (Austin's NPR Station).

Mistrett, Schindler: Texas can 'raise the age' and keep communities safe

April 27, 2017

Texas is one of only a handful of states that still sends all 17-year-olds to adult courts, no matter how minor their offense. Legislation that would raise the age of juvenile court jurisdiction in Texas was passed by the state House of Representatives last week and is now awaiting action in the Texas Senate.

Read the rest of this op-ed at the Houston Chronicle.

Will Texas 'Raise The Age' Of Criminal Responsibility?

April 24, 2017

The cutoff for criminal responsibility in Texas was increased to age 17 in the year 1918. Before that, 9-year-olds could be prosecuted as adults.

Read the rest of this article - and stream an interview with various stakeholders - at Texas Public Radio.