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House passes juvenile justice reform bill

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama lawmakers have passed a bill to overhaul the state’s juvenile justice system and keep low-level offenders out of detention.

Thursday’s vote was 69-20 after more than three hours of heated debate.

The legislation proposed by Rep. Jim Hill, a Republican and former juvenile judge, aims to keep low-level offenders at home instead of in lock-up facilities by limiting the number of offenses that put juveniles in detention among other reforms. Two-thirds of children in custody in 2016 did not commit a felony, according to an Alabama Juvenile Justice Task Force report. The bill would reinvest $35 million over the next five years into community-based intervention programs.

Critics worried about inadequate funding and overburdening juvenile probation officers.

The bill now moves for a final vote to the Senate.