A Senate committee on Monday rejected legislation backed by Gov. Bob McDonnell that would have resulted in more juveniles being tried in adult court.
The bill, sponsored by Republican Sen. Bill Stanley of Franklin County, would have automatically transferred repeat violent offenders from juvenile court to adult court rather than leave the decision up to a judge. It also would have allowed prosecutors to have juveniles charged with certain gang crimes or repeat drug offenses transferred to circuit court for trial as an adult.
"Juveniles need to be as accountable as adults," Fredericksburg Commonwealth's Attorney LaBravia Jenkins told the committee.
But several other speakers said the bill is essentially a solution looking for a problem.
"Judges already are making these decisions appropriately," said University of Richmond law professor Julie McConnell, a former juvenile court prosecutor.
McConnell said that in her six years as a prosecutor, she never had a case that should have gone to circuit court but didn't.
Lindsey Lawson, a Fairfax County attorney and former juvenile probation officer, also said the system is working.
"Trust your judges," she said.
Several committee members said they were reluctant to take discretion from judges.