Shackled Child

“Steal a pair of sneakers in North Carolina the day after you turn 16 and you’ll be charged as an adult. You may not go to jail, but you’ll have an adult criminal record that stays with you the rest of your life. It’s been that way for 96 years – ever since the Juvenile Court Statute of 1919 became state law.

“Many juvenile justice observers and youth advocates think it’s wrong to treat 16- and 17-year-olds as adult offenders. They point to research that indicates children who commit crimes have not matured and do not realize a permanent criminal record can have life-changing limitations.

“They say the state should help young people with problems, not punish them. They also point to current research that suggests charging those youths as juveniles will save North Carolina’s taxpayers millions of dollars in the long run.”

The Charlotte Observer talks with local leaders, including the Council’s Mitch Feld, about the effects of new legislation that could reduce the number of juveniles in adult court.

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