Those findings have renewed calls for the states that prosecute 17-year-olds as adults to raise their age of adult criminal responsibility to 18. Those states include Texas, Michigan and North Carolina. Sullivan, Kirk and other Texas jail officials say they would be in favor of raising the age.
Efforts to raise the age failed in the last legislative session in Texas, but advocates plan to try again next year, said Elizabeth Henneke, policy attorney with the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition.
Elizabeth Henneke, a policy attorney with the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, said distant pretrial housing creates a challenge for adequate defense and family connection as well as access for questioning by prosecutors and other members of law enforcement.
"I appreciate that Harris County is working diligently to comply with PREA because PREA is meant to protect kids and make sure that they are not assaulted," she said, adding that almost every 17-year-old defendant is in custody on a nonviolent offense. "Imagine the hurdles, the transportation costs. … It's going to increase the costs of attorneys' time and it's going to cause huge hardships on the families."
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