Parson pushes to send Missouri Juveniles to adult prison as young as 12

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JEFFERSON CITY- Governor Parson called for a special session dedicated to violence in Missouri, and one of the things on the agenda is moving the age of a juvenile being tried as an adult to as young as 12 years old. 

Governor Parson wants the decision to be up to judges and prosecutors. 

"The process to convict them is a lot different, they don't have as stiff of sentences," said Rep. Chuck Basye, R-Columbia. 

Parson, who is also facing election in November, said he wants the General Assembly to crack down on violent crimes. 

If this passes, this would give judges the ability to determine if a child should be tried as an adult during a hearing. 

Missouri advocacy agencies say this should not pass and that it is a step in the wrong direction. 

Two years ago "Raise the Age" was passed. It was a bi-partisan agreement that agreed that keeping children in the juvenile system was what was best. 

A letter was sent to the general assembly laying out statistics that show putting juveniles in adult prison is more harmful than helpful. 

  • Children are five times more likely to be sexually assaulted. 
  • Children are two times more likely to be beaten by staff in adult facilities than in juvenile facilities. 
  • Children who are incarcerated with adults are 5 times more likely to commit suicide than those who remain in the juvenile system. 

That letter was signed by many different people from different organizations, one organization being Empower Missouri, a non-profit that advocates for basic human rights.

"We oppose the bill because we supported in 2018 a bill that was called "Raise the Age" that would get most 17 year olds out of adult courts and prisons," said Jeanette Mott Oxford, Director of Policy & Organizing with Empower Missouri. 

Sarah Johnson, Director of Juvenile Defense and Policy, also signed that letter. 

She said having juveniles in adult prisons would essentially putting them in solitary confinement. 

"They have to be kept away from anyone over the age of 18," said Johnson. 

The Missouri House is set to meet Aug. 12 to determine if this passes.