Senate committee approves changes in juvenile justice system

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved proposed changes to the juvenile justice system Wednesday after making some adjustments to address concerns of judges.

House Bill 242, which has passed the House, is designed to send fewer juveniles to state facilities for committing felonies and to divert kids who are not dangerous — especially so-called status offenders such as truants, runaways and the unruly — into less expensive community-based programs.

Judges were concerned about the potential cost and stress on staff regarding a requirement that a hearing be held within 24 hours of a status offender being detained just before a weekend or holiday, especially outside urban areas. The committee changed the bill to say that in those situations, a hearing must be held within 72 hours.

The committee also pushed the effective date of the proposed law from July 1 to Jan. 1.

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