In 1995, Wisconsin changed its law regarding the age a person is considered an adult for prosecution in adult court from 18 to 17. Wisconsin is currently only one of 11 states that automatically files charges for 17-year-olds in adult court. Recently LRB 1065/2 - a bill designed to return first-time, non-violent 17 year old offenders to juvenile court was introduced to Wisconsin state legislature for review. Research shows that trying 17 year old offenders in adult court does not decrease juvenile crime rates and results in poorer outcomes for juvenile offenders. In fact, youth processed in the adult system are 34% more likely to re-offend than similar youth processed in the juvenile system. Additionally, research on adolescent brain development indicates that brain maturity is not achieved until the early to mid 20's, which hinders an adolescent's impulse control, decision making and reasoning skills. This does not excuse criminal behavior, but rather gives the juvenile court system an opportunity to rehabilitate the problem behaviors before they reach adulthood. Please sign this petition as a show of support of LRB 1065/2 and help keep 17 year old juvenile offenders in the juvenile court system.
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