Thank you for your eye-opening Jan. 3 column “Jailers hold some teens in solitary confinement. Critics call that torture” about 16- and 17-year-olds being held in solitary confinement in the Mecklenburg County jail. How sad and ineffective.
This is just one of many reasons why North Carolina needs to raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction from 16 to 18 for nonviolent felons and misdemeanants. By doing so, we would drastically reduce instances of minors being held in solitary because they would be adjudicated in the juvenile justice system where the practice is not used. In addition, the juvenile justice system is better equipped to play a rehabilitative role in these young peoples’ lives.
The N.C. Sheriffs’ Association, N.C. Police Benevolent Association, N.C. Association of Chiefs of Police, N.C. Chamber of Commerce, N.C. Commission on the Administration of Law and Justice (led by N.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Martin), many local district attorneys and dozens of advocacy groups support “raise the age” legislation.
In addition, lawmakers from both sides of the political aisle are on record for this reform. Seems like an opportunity for real bipartisan cooperation when legislators come back to Raleigh. For the sake of thousands of North Carolina teens, let’s hope so.
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Public Engagement Director, NC Child