As you may have heard, last week both the NC House and Senate passed the State budget, which included raising the age of juvenile court jurisdiction from 15 to 17 years of age beginning in December 2019. While Governor Cooper vetoed the budget this week, both chambers overrode that veto.

As of today, North Carolina is no longer be the only state to treat 16- and 17-year-olds as adults for all crimes. 

While the provision raises the age for all crimes, the final bill represents a compromise between the House and Senate on the inclusion of H & I felonies so that cases involving 16- and 17-year olds charged with A-G felonies will reach final resolution in adult court if the prosecutor obtains an indictment or a finding of probable cause.

That said, the Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act is a real step forward for our NC juvenile court system.

Finally… we want to express thanks to all of you who called, emailed, shared, tweeted, texted, etc. Your persistence kept this issue at the forefront of budget negotiations and because of your efforts our communities will be safer and our youth will have a chance at a better, more successful future.

Bob Simmons

Executive Director, Council for Children’s Rights
“Council for Children’s Rights is grateful to the General Assembly for recognizing that justice for 16- and 17-year-olds is better served in Juvenile Court.  This change makes North Carolina smart on crime: It will assure not only better futures for the youth of our community but also greater public safety and prosperity. As the public defender for children in Juvenile Court, we look forward to working with the courts and the other participants in the juvenile justice system to expand our capacity to serve our community’s youth.”

 

CFCR Statement on Inclusion of Raise the Age
in Final State Budget

What else does this bill do?

  • It requires the juvenile court counselors, should they elect not to send a matter to court, to provide notice to the victim detailing specific reasons for the decision, specifying whether the matter was closed entirely or diverted, and informing them of their right to request a review by the prosecutor.
  • It assists in the timeliness of filing by increasing law enforcement access, upon request, to prior delinquency records and consultations with law enforcement.
  • It formalizes a school-justice partnership between school systems and law enforcement to reduce in-school arrests, out-of-school suspensions, and expulsions.
  • It establishes minimum standards in the areas of: training for criminal justice officers on juvenile court issues; best practices in handling incidents involving juveniles; adolescent development and psychology; and prevention through relationship building with youth
  • It increases severity of disposition for offenses found to be part of criminal gang activity.
  • It establishes a 21-member juvenile jurisdiction advisory committee to develop an implementation plan for extending jurisdiction to 16- and 17-year-olds that includes cost estimates. Further, it permits the group to apply for and accept grants from non-state funding sources to assist in implementation.

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