Texomans weigh in on 'raise the age' push

WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - Hours after a rally at the Texas state capitol to raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction from 17 to 18, Texomans are voicing their opinions.

A local psychologist said raising the age of when a juvenile can be put into an adult jail would be a good thing.

Dr. David Sabine said, at 17-years-old, the part of our brains that allows us to make good judgment is not fully developed.

"The development of their central nervous system is not far enough along to really deal with the requirements or the stresses of the adult system," Dr. Sabine said.

He adds their young age makes it easy for them to be taken advantage of by older inmates.

Dr. Sabine said throwing 17-year-old's in adult jail can not only harm them physically, but their mental health is also at stake.

"It's such a drastic change from where they've been, it's a set up for depression, for anxiety, for all kinds of emotional distress that older people might not be as vulnerable to," he said.

But not everyone agrees.

"I think they ought to leave it alone. Because it's working like it is now. If they go to changing things they will find loopholes that other people could (use)," Zeke Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez believes if you're old enough to commit the crime then you are old enough to do the time. But Alex Witt sees things a bit differently.

"We all make mistakes. People deserve the chance to better themselves. Having a criminal record automatically holds you down a lot. Trust me, I would know. Just to have the chance to do better means the world to a lot of people," Witt said.

The Texas Criminal Justice Coalition (TCJC) along with 200 high school students took part in a rally Monday in Austin to give legislators and community leaders a look at why they want the age raised.

Samantha Forester, Newschannel 6

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