Texas is one of six states in the nation that tries 17-year-old offenders as adults. But a new bill wants Texas to follow the national trend of raising the age of criminal responsibility from 17 to 18 years old.

House Bill 122, authored by Reps. Harold Dutton Jr. (D-Houston) and Gene Wu (D-Houston), passed the House on April 20 and could be on its way to the Senate.

Wu says that on the practical side, moving 17-year-old offenders from the adult criminal justice system to its juvenile justice counterpart would bring Texas in line with the federal standard of considering 18-year-olds as adults.

“From a more philosophical side, a 17-year-old can’t sign contracts, they can’t serve on a jury, they can’t buy tobacco, they can’t consent to their own medical care, they can’t join the military [and] they can’t vote because we say they’re not emotionally and intellectually mature enough,” Wu says. “But yet we say we can put you in prison for that same immaturity.”

What you’ll hear in this segment:

– Why Wu believes this bill could save the state thousands of dollars a week

– How Wu responds to one of the bill’s main critics, Sen. John Whitmire (D-Houston)

– Where the bill stands in the Legislature

Written by Molly Smith.

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