The Texas Legislature is considering upping the age where a teenager could be considered an adult in the criminal justice system from the current 17 to 18, 1200 WOAI news reports.
"What would be the impact not only on the teenagers themselves but on the criminal justice system as a whole," State Rep Abel Herrero (D-Corpus Christi) tells 1200 WOAI news.
The line between a juvenile and an adult is a blurry one, and has been moved over the years. It used to be 18, but it was changed to 17 in the 1990s in response to a wave of juvenile gang violence. Then, in the 2013 session, lawmakers had to adjust the system to prevent people to committed crimes under the age of 18 from being eligible for the death penalty, falling in line with federal law.
"Fro a 17 year old who was convicted of capital murder, we changed it to make that person eligible for life in prison with the chance of parole at the age of 40, and not the death penalty," Herrero said.
Several groups, ranging from child advocates to victims rights organizations, plan to testify on the proposal.
"There are a multiple of issues that would be affected by keeping a 17 year old as an adult in the criminal justice system, or moving it to an 18 year old," Herrero said.
Lawmakers may discuss the issue in the 2015 session, if a consensus is reached by the interim committee.