Regarding the April 26 news article “Bill would keep teens out of adult court”: Thanks to The News & Observer for doing such a great job of exploring the issue of raising the juvenile age.
North Carolina should be a national leader – as it once was – in the juvenile justice field by voting to raise the age. We have substantial developmental, cost benefit and public safety research (yes, communities are safer based on crime statistics when youths are dealt with in juvenile courts as opposed to adult criminal courts).
I fail to understand the arguments from those who say that because the juvenile justice system is underfunded, the legislation should fail. The legislature annually passes or modifies laws to fund roads, buildings, technology, health care, education – all of these are typically viewed as “underfunded” by their constituencies, advocates or policymakers. Yet the legislature funds them annually, often increasing appropriations to meet expanding needs.
What is more critical than investing in our youth, especially when they need prevention, evidence-based interventions and family supports? This is truly a political argument, not a rational one. We have tools, research and the public’s support to do this work. We also have a moral obligation to fix this. Let’s get it done this year.