Under the Dome

‘Raise the Age’ advocates tout new report on juvenile justice

The NC Insider is reporting that advocates for raising the age at which North Carolinians are tried in adult courts are touting a new national study that notes that 48 other states have enacted legislation to prevent older teenagers from being prosecuted in adult courts.

The report from Campaign for Youth Justice was released ahead of the annual conference of District Court Judges today in Concord, where former Ohio Supreme Court Justice Evelyn Stratton will speak on the subject.

From the Insider: “The report points out that 23 states have enacted 40 pieces of legislation over the last eight years which reduce the prosecution of teens in adult court or curb their placement in adult jails or prisons. North Carolina, along with several other states, has taken steps to eliminate life sentences without possibility of parole for juveniles, the report notes.

“In 2012, legislators passed a law barring life without parole for teenagers younger than 18 who are convicted of first- or second-degree murder. A coalition of more than three dozen groups, known as ‘Raise the Age,’ have been pushing legislation here to have more 16- and 17-year olds tried in juvenile court.

“In the recent legislative session, a bill sponsored by Rep. Marilyn Avila, a Raleigh Republican, would have sent 16- and 17-year-old misdemeanor suspects to juvenile court; under current law, they are tried in adult court. HB 725 was initially approved by the House on the final day of the 2013 legislative session, but did not receive a required second vote in the chamber before adjournment. Opponents of the measure at the time said it would burden the juvenile system, and questions were raised about its cost. The Campaign for Youth Justice says treating 16- and 17-year-old misdemeanor suspects as juveniles would save money in the long run. Keeping teenagers out of adult courts reduces the rate of repeat offenses, saving money for the justice system and improving public safety, the report says.”