A proposal at the Capitol would allow 17-year-olds to again face charges in juvenile court.

Currently, 17-year-olds charged with a crime are tried in adult courts in Wisconsin. The move came about in the mid-1990s, after concerns were raised about the increasingly violent nature of some offenders and concerns that the juvenile system was not enough to protect the public.

However, state Representative Fred Kessler (D-Milwaukee) argues the move did more harm than good, since the adult prison system is not equipped to help rehabilitate young offenders. He says they would be better served in the juvenile corrections system, were counseling and classes are available to help prepare them for a return to society.

The Milwaukee Democrat is proposing legislation that would phase 17-year-olds back into the juvenile court system over a two year period, starting with misdemeanors and then felonies. Prosecutors could still call for serious and violent crimes to be tried in an adult court.

Kessler says the move would help those offenders get the treatment they need to avoid a life of crime in the future.

AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:07)


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