Lawmakers to review juvenile justice policies

By: CHRIS TOMLINSON Associated Press
By: CHRIS TOMLINSON Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Experts are recommending that Texas lawmakers treat 17-year-olds as juveniles when they commit crimes.

Researchers and judges told the House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence on Tuesday that they should change the current law that treats 17-year-olds as adults.

Michelle Dietch, a professor at the LBJ School for Public Affairs, said teenage brains are not fully developed and offenders need special services not available in adult prisons.

The Texas Senate Criminal Justice Committee will meet in the afternoon to study how the juvenile detention system is operating. Lawmakers recently moved to shut down most of the state's juvenile detention centers, but the state is still struggling with how to deal with those suffering from severe behavioral problems.

The lawmakers will use what they learn Tuesday next year's legislative session.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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