Wis. Bill Would Return 17-Year-Olds in Juvenile System

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Non-violent 17-year-old offenders in Wisconsin would no longer be treated as adults in the justice system under a bipartisan proposal up for a hearing in the Legislature.

The bill before the Assembly's Corrections Committee would reverse a 1996 law requiring all 17-year-olds, regardless of the offense, to be treated as adults.

The proposal would not affect those charged with violent crimes such as homicide, rape or battery. It also wouldn't affect repeat offenders.

A variety of groups supports the change, including the State Bar of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Catholic Conference and the state public defender.

Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen is against it. He says the current system works well.

Wisconsin is one of only 11 states where children under the age of 18 are automatically treated as adults.


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