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House panel mulls increasing juvenile criminal age to 18

A Texas House panel is hearing the case for – and against – changing the state’s definition of who is considered an adult in the criminal justice system.

Proposals by three Democrats being presented Wednesday would raise the age of those considered adults from 17 to 18.

The bills will be left pending before the House Committee on Juvenile Justice and Family Issues.

Since 1918, Texas law classifies 17-year-olds charged with a crime as adults. A bipartisan committee recommended raising the age, noting that state law clashes with federal standards governing inmate housing.

Even if the committee and the full House pass the proposals, though, they will be challenged by Democratic Sen. John Whitmire, who oversees criminal justice issues in the Senate.

Whitmire has said he’ll oppose raising the age.

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