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17-year-olds would no longer be charged as adults if this bill passes
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Judge Lindsay Burton's courtroom is on display during an open house at the Courthouse Annex for Hall County commissioners and others on Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019. Burton is chief judge of the Juvenile Court. - photo by Austin Steele

Legislation advancing at the state Capitol in Georgia aims to raise the age at which teens can be charged as adults from 17 to 18.

The House Juvenile Justice Committee approved the bill unanimously on March 9, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. 

Georgia, Wisconsin and Texas are the only states that charge people over the age of 16 as adults, according to the newspaper.

The bill moving forward in Georgia would allow the juvenile justice system to handle cases involving 17-year-olds accused of committing crimes. Those cases are currently heard in superior court.

"This is really about making sure 17-year-olds aren't burdened with criminal records that are going to hurt them in the long run," said Josh Rovner with Washington, D.C.-based criminal justice nonprofit The Sentencing Project.

Supporters say it would also give the teens greater access to services that try to prevent them from committing another crime.