As of today, North Carolina is one of only two states in the nation that prosecutes all 16- and 17-year-olds in the adult court system, regardless of how severe the crime.
On August 23, The Legislative Research Commission (LRC) formally convened at the General Assembly and established a House Study Committee, Age of Juvenile Offender. The LRC will produce a report and legislation recommendations by mid-January 2013, and they will meet four times between now and the end of the year. These meetings are open to the public. During these meetings, the committee will study:
- What juvenile justice reforms are needed to implement the proposal in Senate Bill 434, edition 3, for raising the age for misdemeanors
- Evidence-based models for reducing juvenile recidivism and models to reduce inappropriate or unnecessary use of secured detention
- How best to reserve secure facilities for the most troubled youth
- Best practices among community-based programs, such as the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council (JCPC) system
- How to prepare local prisons (and other lock-up facilities) for implementation of Department of Justice regulations related to the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003, P.L. 108-79, including ensuring that all youth under the age of 18 are held separately from adults
Action for Children North Carolina is an important advocate of the Raise the Age campaign. For more information, you can visit their website at www.ncchild.org, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The organization has also supplied a list of the members of the LRC, as well as a short message in support of keeping juveniles out of the adult court system by raising the age from 16 to 18. Contacts are:
Rep. Marilyn Avila: Marilyn.Avila@ncleg.net
Rep. John Blust: John.Blust@ncleg.net
Rep. James Boles: Jamie.Boles@ncleg.net
Rep. Larry Hall: Larry.Hall@ncleg.net
Rep. Darren Jackson: Darren.Jackson@ncleg.net
Rep. David Lewis: David.Lewis@ncleg.net
The message: In July 2012, this committee promised to prioritize the review of raise the age implementation and juvenile justice reform. I thank you for joining this committee and taking leadership on an issue that is critical to the advancement of our state, our families, and youth. Most importantly, I urge you to move forward with legislation in 2013 to raise the age of juvenile court jurisdiction from 16 to 18 and bring much needed reform to our state. Until you take a stand for North Carolina youth, 16 and 17 year olds will continue to be prosecuted in adult criminal court – even for very minor offenses.