Missouri lawmakers are debating a criminal justice reform bill that would raise the age that suspects are considered an adult.
The question is whether a 17 year old is a minor or an adult.
"You can be arrested and sent to adult prison at the age of 17, but you're still viewed as a minor in all other aspects until you're 18,” says CPD Chief Greg Dagnan.
That's been the case in Missouri for years, but it could be changing. State Representative Nick Schroer of O'Fallon wants to move the age limit for criminal charges to 18.
"If you're 17, you can't buy alcohol or go in the military. But for the most minor of offenses, you're going to be treated as an adult in the criminal justice system,” says MO Rep. Nick Schroer.
He says that has proven to lower repeat offenses, citing statistics from the 45 other states that use the age of 18. But some are raising concerns that the switch is more than the juvenile system can handle.
"Because all those people who were going to the adult system are going to go to the juvenile system, that are 17,” says Chief Greg Dagnan.
An amendment to the bill would raise some funds to help soften the blow. It proposes a $3.50 court fee on civil filings.
"That $3.50 would be allocated to a juvenile justice fund which would only be used for the juvenile justice system,” says Rep. Nick Schroer.
House Bill 1255 has been approved by the Senate and is under consideration in the House.