This week, the Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee heard a bill that would implement Raise the Age legislation passed in 2018. HB 1242, sponsored by Rep. David Evans (R-West Plains), states that the law is not retroactive and provides that a child can remain in the custody of the Division of Youth services until his or her 19th birthday. The bill also moves responsibility for funding services from the state treasurer to the circuit court of the counties.
The original Raise the Age law stated that juveniles be certified as adults at age 18, rather than at age 17, effective January 2021. However, confusion over a provision in the original bill left in doubt that money would be available to provide services for youth. Consequently, some counties implemented the law in 2021, while others did not. HB 1242 clears up the confusion about when Raise the Age goes into effect and who will pay for its services.
Numerous organizations, including the Missouri Catholic Conference, supported the legislation, noting that keeping children in the juvenile justice system holds them accountable while giving them the programs they need to become successful adults. The committee took no action on the bill.