Rosenblum Schwartz & Fry

Will 2018 yield major changes for Missouri juvenile law outcomes?

Eleventh time lucky?

Missouri criminal law reformists who strongly push for some material adjustments to how penal exactions are administered to youthful offenders in the state might want to know this: For 10 years running, lawmakers in Jefferson City have sought to change a law that requires alleged criminal offenders who are 17 years or older to proceed directly to adult court to have their cases tried.

That is a rarity and far from the norm among American states, notes a principal with a juvenile justice center. Commentator Mae Quinn points out that Missouri joins only four other states in its requirement that 17-year-old offenders be charged as adults.

Missouri is "an outlier more and more," Quinn says.

That could finally change on legislators' 11th attempt to adjust state law by raising the threshold adult-offender age to 18. A bill will once against be considered this year, and reformists have strong hopes that it will finally be enacted as law in 2018.

That is not all that reformers seek this year, as noted in one recent article underscoring attempts to soften some criminal law outcomes for young defendants. They also look with dismay upon the reality of juvenile offenders "who receive incredibly long sentences for non-homicide crimes."

And they centrally reference while doing so the case of a Missouri teenager sentenced some years back to a 241-year prison term for crimes not involving a fatality. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that juveniles cannot receive no-parole life terms for crimes not resulting in a death. The tribunal has never focused, however, on a case where parole eligibility might come up only after an individual's natural life span has passed.

We will keep readers timely informed of any material juvenile law-related changes that could conceivably occur this year.

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