Should Missouri house its juvenile offenders in an adult jail before trial? That was the issue before the House Civil and Criminal Proceedings Committee this week as it heard HB 1641. Currently any child under the age of 17 who has been certified as an adult may be detained in an adult jail prior to trial. Under HB 1641, sponsored by Rep. Hicks Ron Hicks (R-St. Charles) juveniles would be banned from adult jails, instead going to a secure juvenile facility.
At the hearing, parents of Missouri youth held in adult jails, told horror stories of how their juvenile children were emotionally, physically and sexually abused in jails-all before being convicted of any crime. The MCC, along with Empower Missouri and the ACLU joined in supporting HB 1641, noting research that shows youth in adult jails face higher rates of suicide and abuse by other inmates than youth held in juvenile facilities. It is estimated that about 20 youth a year in Missouri are detained in adult jails pre-trial.
The committee took no action on the bill.