Brandy Bynum: A minor problem

January 4, 2013 

A minor problem

Thank you for your important coverage of crimes involving young people ( “Teens accused in killings confound trend,” Dec. 31 news story). The article, however, brought up efforts to raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction without noting one hugely significant fact: Proposals approved by a bipartisan committee of the House Legislative Research Commission would apply only to 16- and 17-year-olds who commit misdemeanors. These include minor offenses such as the teen charged with larceny for stealing a bag of Doritos from his high school lunch line. Heinous crimes such as those described in the article would still be tried in adult court.

The majority of charges brought against teens are for misdemeanors. Violent crimes account for a very small percentage of offenses involving 16- and 17-year-olds.

There are ample ways to deal with these traumatic incidents. They should not be the rationale for a self-destructive blanket policy that treats all 16- and 17-year-olds as adults. North Carolina is one of only two states that treat all 16- and 17-year-olds as adults regardless of the alleged crime, creating a one-size-fits-all system that increases the odds of teens becoming repeat offenders. By raising the age, North Carolina will get smarter on crime while making our communities stronger and safer.

Brandy Bynum

Director of Policy and Outreach, Action for Children NC

Raleigh

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