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Pressure rising to treat 17-year-olds as juveniles in Texas

By Chuck Lindell - American-Statesman Staff

A 17-year-old who cannot vote, serve on a jury or buy alcohol will, if arrested in Texas, be treated as an adult — entering a criminal justice system geared more toward punishment than rehabilitation, even if arrested for a misdemeanor.

Pressure is growing, however, to raise the age of adulthood to 18 for criminal matters, a move that could save tax money, reduce arrest rates and simplify jail procedures, according to testimony Tuesday before the state House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee at the Capitol. Some prosecutors, however, warned that such a change could strain county budgets.

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