Kids in prison
(Excerpted from the latest column.)
Currently, Missouri is one of five states where 17-year-old children can be sent to prison for committing crimes, no matter how minor the offense. On Thursday, March 8, my Senate colleagues and I approved Senate Bill 793, legislation that raises the age of adult court jurisdiction from 17 years of age to 18 years.
In Missouri, 17-year-olds can’t vote, can’t serve on juries and can’t even buy a lottery ticket. However, our court system automatically tries 17-year-olds as adults no matter how minor the crime. Missouri’s prison system is not set up to address the needs of children. Offenders who have served their time in our correctional system are three times more likely to return to prison than kids leaving one of our state’s juvenile facilities.
Senate Bill 793 does not prevent the court system from prosecuting 17-year-olds accused of serious crimes as adults. This legislation not only provides numerous economic and practical benefits to our state, but it also extends an opportunity for our young people to address issues in their lives while keeping them out of the Department of Corrections adult facilities.
13,000 kids in foster system
There are more than 13,000 children in Missouri’s foster care system; 1,200 of these children are living without foster parents. The Depart-ment of Social Services is in need of adoptive parents, people willing to open their lives to those children whose birth parents no longer have parental rights. These children simply seek the love that every child craves. For more information on adoption in Missouri through the Department of Social Services visithttps://dss.mo.gov/cd/adoption/.
If you would like to arrange to visit me in Jefferson City, or if you ever have any questions, please contact my Capitol office at 573-751-1882.