Support to ‘raise the age’ crosses ideological, partisan lines
At press conference, Chief Justice Martin says Tar Heel State would save tax dollars and reduce repeat offenses if older teens were handled by juvenile justice system
North Carolina is now the nation’s only state charging 16- and 17-year-old delinquents as adults and needs to catch up with the rest of the country, says N.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Martin.
Supporters of a bill that would “Raise the Age” for low-level juvenile offenders call North Carolina’s law a disgrace, and spoke about it Monday at a press conference at the legislative complex. (Watch the entire press conference here.)
New York raised its juvenile age limit to 18 years old last month.
Teenagers in the state’s criminal justice system shouldn’t be forced into adult prisons or carry permanent records for petty crimes, Martin said.
Raising the age would decrease youth recidivism and would save the state money over the long-haul.
Under House Bill 280, the Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act, teens up to the age of 18 who are charged with nonviolent crimes would qualify as juveniles.
Passing the law should should be a no-brainer for legislators, Martin said.
When a 16-year-old commits a minor theft and is charged as an adult, that charge leaves an ugly mark on the kid’s record, he said.
“In North Carolina [a criminal record] is placed on the internet, and so it becomes part of [any] background investigation. Normally, these cases are handled very quickly, so the child and parents can think it’s well behind them, only to learn five or six years later that it had a very serious effect on [the child’s] ability to participate in the global marketplace.”