A bill that would create a new category of crime and send some youth offenders directly into the adult court system was approved Monday by the Senate Human Services Standing Committee.

SB111, sponsored by Assistant Majority Whip Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, sends juveniles 16 and older directly to the adult judicial system if they are charged with an offense that would be murder or aggravated murder if committed by an adult.It also gives adult court jurisdiction in the case of any felony committed by a juvenile who has previously done time in a secure facility. Those felonies include aggravated arson, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated burglary, aggravated robbery, aggravated sexual assault, felony discharge of a firearm from a vehicle, aggravated attempted murder and attempted murder.

The law would also apply to felony offenses involving use of a dangerous weapon if the youth had already been charged with use of a dangerous weapon.

Current law allows certification of older juvenile offenders as adults if they are charged with certain crimes, at the discretion of the juvenile court judge. SB111 sends cases directly to adult court in such circumstances.

Hillyard said the bill would not impact 95 percent of serious youth offenders but is aimed at the most hard-core delinquents.

Youths charged with an aggravated first-degree felony generally serve about eight months in the juvenile system. In the adult prison, the average time is eight years.

Many supporters spoke in favor of the measure, but it was not without critics. Wayne Holland, retired from the Division of Youth Corrections, called the bill "improper and immoral."

A spokeswoman for the American Civil Liberties Union said that "constitutional deficiencies" would subject the law to court review, adding that the bill "will not protect the public or prevent crime."

Instead, she said, it will put youths into an adult prison system that has already failed.