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CA senator wants to increase age to be prosecuted as an adult

Posted at 6:39 PM, Jan 31, 2020
CA senator wants to increase age to be prosecuted as an adult

According to California Senator Nancy Skinner, 18 and 19-year-olds may not be mature enough to be put behind bars if they commit a crime.

Skinner says those under the age of 20 have not yet fully developed the part of the brain that is associated with making impulse decisions and planned behavior.

That's why she is proposing Senate Bill 889.

The bill would increase the age to 20-years-old to be automatically tried as an adult.

Some aren't sure it will make a difference.

"At 18, 19, 20 you are going to have to make decisions that are hard and while those two years of experience do give you a say, I feel like still it is not that big of a difference," said Eduardo Arguello, a student at Cal Poly.

But Skinner says prison time for teenagers is not the answer.

She says teens processed through the juvenile justice system will have increased access to education, resources and programs which will only help them in the long run.

However, some say if you are legally recognized as an adult at 18-years-old, you should also be treated like one.

"If they are tried as juveniles until they are 20, then they shouldn't be allowed to vote until they're 20 and they shouldn't be allowed to buy cigarettes or anything else until they are 20," said Dennis Bertrand, a Morro Bay resident.

In a statement to KSBY News, San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow said, "Why shouldn't an 18 or 19 year old who can make legally binding decisions not be held accountable as an adult for committing a violent crime? Extending probation jurisdiction does not encourage responsibility and accountability for adult decisions."

"They know what is good for themselves so I feel like at 18 years old, you still have decisions to make so I feel like it is better to get started earlier than later," said Kabir Mahajan, a Cal Poly student.

Senator Skinner said she will be working with numerous juvenile justice stakeholders to write the official legislation.

Under current California law, 16 and 17-year-olds can be prosecuted as adults in certain cases.

Two years ago, the state of Vermont enacted a law that classifies adults in the criminal justice system as being 21 years of age or older.