State lawmakers plan to overhaul the state’s juvenile justice system. A proposed bill is slated for a joint hearing by the House and Senate later this month. The bill would reduce the number of juvenile offenders that are sent to lock-up or tried in adult court.
The bill's sponsor Representative Jim Hill says many rural counties lack the intervention programs needed to keep from sending offenders to a lock-up facility. The legislation comes from the recommendations from the state’s Juvenile Justice Task Force.
According to the Task Force, nearly two-thirds of referrals to Department of Youth Services’ custody in 2016 were for children who didn’t commit a felony.