At a time when two studies question the validity of a Wisconsin law that placed all 17-year-old criminal offenders in adult court, a committee of state legislators and other stakeholders has begun reviewing whether the law should be changed, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Waukesha County District Attorney Brad Schimel, a committee member, said, “We are looking at our juvenile justice system and assessing whether it's useful,” Schimel said. Two recent studies called the state's 1995 decision to send all 17-year-olds through adult court a failed experiment that only increases the likelihood the teens will commit more crimes.
Committee members are still gathering information, which includes a report from the La Follette School of Public Affairs that looked at alternative ways juveniles could be treated in the criminal court system. Wisconsin's judicial waiver law fails to consider differing maturity levels, moral capacity, and treatment needs of 17-year-old offenders, the La Follette study says. The inability of the adult correctional system to meet the needs of teens likely plays a major role in the high recidivism rate among young offenders, the study says.