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Colorado House OKs increasing minimum age to criminally charge kids after heated debate

Debate on the bill was cut short Monday after things got heated between lawmakers and the issue of race came up.

DENVER — The Colorado House approved a bill on Monday to stop charging children under 13 with most crimes, advancing it to the Senate for consideration. 

Currently, the minimum age for criminal prosecution in Colorado is 10. House Bill 1249 would raise the age to 13, except when a child is suspected of committing homicide. This would remove children aged 10, 11 and 12 from the jurisdiction of juvenile, municipal and county courts. 

Instead of entering the criminal justice system, children under 13 who commit crimes would be referred to local collaborative management programs to get resources, such as therapy or family counseling. Victims of crimes committed by kids aged 10 to 12 could still access victim services and compensation, as the bill would remove the requirement for a police report to be filed. 

"We see repeated and unnecessary involvement with the justice system that is causing our young kids more harm than not," said bill sponsor Rep. Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez, D-Denver. "When we talk about preventing more crime, preventing more victims, this is it. This is how we do it." 

The House voted, 40-25, to advance the bill to the Senate. The vote was mostly split along party lines, with all but one Republican opposing the bill and all but seven Democrats supporting it. 

>Read the full article at Colorado Politics.

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