|Push for North Carolina to ‘Raise the Age’|
|Bills would try 16-, 17-year-olds as juveniles|
|Published Thursday, November 29, 2012 1:37 pm|
CARRBORO – North Carolina remains one of only two states in the country to continue to prosecute 16- and 17-year-olds as adults, regardless of the crime they commit.
Two bills in the Senate and House would amend the law to allow teens of those ages who commit non-violent crimes to be prosecuted as juveniles.
State Sen. Ellie Kinnaird (D-Dist. 23) is championing the legislation, which she maintains is anything but soft on crime.
“If we can get these kids going the right direction, they'll be productive citizens,” she said. “They'll be taxpayers. They’ll be a model for the next generation.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, kids who go through the adult system are re-arrested, reconvicted, re-incarcerated and have their probation revoked at higher rates than other adult offenders. Today, the Legislative Research Commission will meet in Raleigh to discuss the “Raise the Age” effort.
Kinnaird points out that juveniles prosecuted for non-violent crimes bear that mark for the rest of their lives, when they may not have had the maturity to understand the consequences of their decision.
“These are kids whose brains are not developed,” she said. “They just do stupid things without thinking it through. They don't have developed judgement, and they don't really have the ability to resist peer pressure.”
An analysis by the North Carolina Sentencing and Policy Advisory Commission found that kids handled in the juvenile justice system repeat offend far less than youth dealt with in the adult system. The report pointed out that means less crime and more public savings.
New York is the other state that prosecutes all 16- and 17-year olds as adults.
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