You have to be 18 to vote in a general election or join the military without your parents’ consent — and you’ve got to be 21 before you can belly up to the bar.
But in some states, if you’re under 18 and you break the law, you’ll be treated as an adult, no matter how slight the crime — even if it’s just jumping a subway turnstile or shoplifting.
Sixteen-year-olds in New York and North Carolina are still funneled through adult criminal courts and housed in adult prisons and jails. In Georgia, Michigan, Missouri, Texas and Wisconsin, 17-year-olds are automatically prosecuted as adults.
Raising the age can have a huge impact on the lives of young people. Teens funneled into adult prisons do not have access to rehabilitative services that the juvenile justice system provides. And adult prisons can be extremely dangerous for teens.