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Juvenile Sentencing and Public Safety

April 6, 2021
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WRITTEN BY Dr. Jenny Bratburd and Dr. Rachel Owen

Under SB 1, a child between the ages of 12 and 18 years may be tried in a court of general jurisdiction and prosecuted under general law for the offenses of unlawful use of weapons and armed criminal action, among other provisions. According to the Missouri Department of Corrections, the proposed legislation does not provide any new penalties or offenses, but increases the likelihood that a juvenile could be transferred to a court of general jurisdiction and sentenced there under section 571.015 and/or section 571.030. Information received from the Office of State Courts Administrator indicates that in CY 19, the offenses outlined in this proposal under section 571.030 and section 571.015 would account for an additional 307 orders for certification hearings - 68 of which were armed criminal action offenses and 92 were misdemeanors. If transferred to a court of general jurisdiction, children would potentially be eligible for the Missouri Dual Jurisdiction Program - a blended sentencing option in which a juvenile and adult sentence is simultaneously imposed with the execution of the adult sentence suspended.


  • The juvenile arrest rate for weapons law violations has declined over the past 20 years nationwide and, in Missouri, juvenile cases certified to adult court for any crime have also declined.
  • Juveniles detained in adult prisons are more likely than their adult counterparts to be sexually abused and commit suicide.
  • While many adolescents are deterred from committing crimes when they may be tried as adults, psychological immaturity may cause many youth to make impulsive decisions without weighing long-term consequences.
  • Juveniles prosecuted in adult courts are more likely to commit future crimes sooner and more frequently than those prosecuted in juvenile court and Black males are at the highest risk of recidivism, indicating confounding effects of race and gender.

This Note has been updated. You can access the previous version (published February 2020) here

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