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Senate Health Committee approves bill to clarify law on committing 18 year olds

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

The Senate Health Committee gave a favorable report to a bill clarifying that 18 year olds are adults under the law and can be committed for insanity by a probate judge, just like any other adult.

Senate Bill 330 is sponsored by Sen. Tim Melson, R-Florence.  The bill allows for the commitment of people with mental illness

Melson said that there is some confusion by the probate judges under the law now because in some places in the Alabama code the age of majority is 18 and in others it is 19. This has made some judges reluctant to act on commitment motions for 18-year-olds.

Concerned citizen Sharon Gadd objected to the bill.

While she agreed with the need for more mental health treatment, she said that an 18 year old should be housed in a juvenile facility and not an adult one.

“Children who might be 18 and 19 are now going to be exposed to a public hearing in probate court where their record is not protected,” Gadd said. “A public proceeding that will follow them around for the rest of their life.”

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She was the only to speak at the public hearing.

State Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, said that the Taskforce on Juvenile Justice has made involuntary commitment one of the number one issues that they are looking at.

Ward said that the recent school shooting in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, by 19-year-old Nikolas Jacob Cruz could have been prevented had authorities acted differently.

The committee voted to give the bill a favorable report.

SB330 now moves to the full Senate.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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