Realizing that youth are very vulnerable in adult jails, the Senate this week voted in support of a measure that would keep juveniles out of jails before trial. Sponsored by Sen.Wayne Wallingford (R-Cape Girardeau), SB 618 would prevent any youth certified as an adult from being held in an adult jail until the child has been sentenced or turns 17 years of age. The bill establishes a workgroup that will develop a plan by 2018 for alternate detention of these youth.
The MCC has worked in support of SB 618 as youth can suffer physical and sexual abuse by adult offenders in jails. Catholic teaching also realizes that youth are not adults and should be treated differently in the criminal justice system.
Additional amendments added to SB 618 include one offered by Sen. Jamilah Nasheed (D-St. Louis) that would prevent the shackling of pregnant women and one offered by Sen. Wallingford that would allow for restraints to be removed from juveniles in court.
The bill needs one more vote of support from the Senate before it moves to the House.