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Bill Would Kick Most 17-Year-Olds Out of Adult Court

Seventeen would no longer be the age at which Missouri defendants are tried as adults under a measure that has won initial approval in the Senate.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the age would increase to 18 under a bill that received first-round approval Wednesday. Children 12 years and older could still be tried adult court for serious felonies.

Republican Sen. Wayne Wallingford, of Cape Girardeau, says he sponsored the measure in an effort to ensure children don't turn into adult criminals. The fiscal note says the Department of Corrections last year admitted 301 offenders who were 17 years old at the time they committed their crimes.

Juvenile court officials have raised concerns that the switch would land more offenders in an understaffed system that faces increasing overtime costs.