Governor Parson is asking lawmakers to earmark more than $18 million for the cost of keeping juveniles out of adult jails. The money for juvenile offenders is part of a 2018 law, known as "Raise the Age", that barred 17-year-old offenders from being automatically charged as adults. The law took effect on January 1, 2021, but because there was no money dedicated for juvenile services, 46 of the judicial circuits decided that the juvenile court should not take on juvenile offenders. Meanwhile, St. Louis and Jackson counties went in the opposite direction, and are treating 17-year-olds as juveniles. If the funding is approved, the money would go for hiring 138 workers to implement the law in all Missouri counties.
Forty-four other states, including Illinois, have passed "Raise the Age" legislation. Supporters of the legislation say that keeping 17 year olds in the juvenile justice system will reduce the chances they will commit another crime.