Proposed legislation from a Republican state lawmaker would keep some juvenile offenders from being charged as adults.
The bill from state Senator Jerry Petrowski (R-Marathon) would allow 17-year-olds who are first-time offenders and are charged with a non-violent crime to be tried as a juvenile. The Marathon Republican says the current system of sending those teens to prison increases the risk that they will commit another crime in the future.
Petrowski says being tried as a juvenile makes it easier to put those offenders in treatment and jail diversion programs, which can provide them with needed resources to prevent a second offense. “People that go through the juvenile system, rather than the adult system, are 50 percent less likely to re-offend,” he says. “This is going to save us money in the long run, in the short run…any way you want to look at it.”
The bill would also direct $5 million in funding to the Department of Children and Families, which would distribute that money to counties to help reimburse them for the cost of providing juvenile delinquency-related services to 17-year-olds.
The bill is currently awaiting a committee hearing at the Capitol.