March 28, 2014 – University of Houston Law Center Professor Ellen Marrus testified in Austin this week before a House committee in favor of raising the age for juvenile court jurisdiction to include 17-year-olds.
“It is important to remember to treat kids as kids,” Marrus said before testifying March 25. “A 17-year-old is not considered mature enough to vote, join the armed forces without parental consent, or sign a legal contract. Why do we think they are old enough to be in the adult criminal justice system no matter what offense they committed?
”Most 17-year-olds in Texas are charged with misdemeanors, not serious felony offenses,” she continued. “The juvenile system is a better place for a child to be able to turn things around.”
The House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence is holding public hearings concerning the current classification of a 17-year-old as an adult in the state criminal justice system. The committee invited Marrus, the George Butler Research Professor of Law and director of the Center for Children, Law & Policy at the law school, to testify because of her “experience and expertise on juvenile justice issues.”
Marrus spoke for 15 minutes and responded to questions from committee members.