Regarding the April 26 news article “Bill would keep teens out of adult court”: Reform without adequate resource allocation creates crisis. Those of us who labor in the criminal justice system have seen this time and again. (Most recently in the area of mental health.)
Yet some would have us rush headlong into changing the age at which someone is charged as an adult under our criminal laws with a promise to pay later or, worse yet, while downplaying the cost.
Inasmuch as juvenile court is able to lead to successful interventions in the life of a teenager, it is because of the intensive time and resources provided to that teenager by all of those involved. Moving 22,000 additional young people currently overseen by criminal district court to juvenile court would significantly strain an already overburdened and underfunded system.
While it is true that these teenagers would not head to youth detention facilities, each one deserves the benefit of a court counselor, intervention services and a judge who can spend time crafting the best plan to help him or her succeed.
If the goal really is to help these teenagers to become productive citizens, then be realistic about the cost and find the funds. To do otherwise will leave yet another mess.
Wake County district attorney