Senate committee hears a bill that would separate offenders by age

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JEFFERSON CITY - A Senate committee heard a bill today that would require youth and adult offenders be separated in different facilities during their sentence.

Sen. Wayne Wallingford (R-Cape Girardeau) introduced SB 618 which would prohibit youth certified as an adult to be detained in an adult prison until the child is 17 years of age. Instead, the child will be required to be detained in a juvenile facility that meets the states standards.

Under current law, a child under the age of 17 who has been charged as an adult is allowed to be detained in an adult jail prior to their trial date.

The Senate committee on Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence heard the bill today and is scheduled to vote on the bill Thursday afternoon at the next hearing.

Sen. Joseph Keaveny (D-St. Louis County) is in support of the bill because he feels the younger offenders are vulnerable to the older prisoners.

"I think these young individuals have a much better chance at rehabilitations and a reduced chance of recidivism," Keaveny said.

Keaveny said he believes that the suicide rate could be higher for younger offenders.

"I think we need to get out of the system that makes younger offenders, better offenders in the future," Keaveny said.

Wallingford's chief of staff, Bill Foster, said there has been no opposition to the bill since they filed it on Dec. 1, 2015.

The bill is scheduled to be voted on Thursday afternoon in committee.

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