In July two Missouri Senate bills, SB 53 combined with SB 60, were signed and passed into law by Governor Mike Parson. They took effect in August with some provisions to be put in place later in the year.
The foundation of these law adjustments was built on public safety and the administration of justice, partly as it pertains to juveniles accused of crimes who have been certified to stand trial as adults.
Continual law revisions are necessary to protect juveniles
Lawmakers recognize that constant vigilance is necessary to protect all people, including those accused of a crime. That’s why laws are constantly scrutinized, and revisions and reforms are put in place to provide better protection.
The issue before the lawmakers, in this case, is whether juveniles should be subjected to incarceration in an adult prison rather than in juvenile detention facilities while awaiting final sentencing. The law was ultimately revised to protect juveniles awaiting a criminal court trial and during the trial, as well as those awaiting the judgment of appeals.
Juvenile detention internment
The law now forbids many transfers of people under the age of 18 who were accused of adult crimes from juvenile detention to criminal incarceration. However, it allows for the following exceptions:
- Juvenile court can order the transfer from juvenile detention to criminal incarceration
- A final judgment is given on appeal of a dismissal of prosecution under general laws
- A juvenile officer may file a motion in the adult criminal case to transfer the individual from juvenile detention to an adult jail. Evidence pertaining to the motion would be heard as to why the transfer should occur. The court can then order such a transfer based on the evidence.
- The juvenile attains the age of 18 or is convicted.
Effective December 21, 2021, all juveniles that were certified to stand trial as an adult before August 28, 2021, and are in the pre-trial stage, will be transferred from an adult jail to juvenile detention unless a court finds it is not in the best interest of justice.