Statement from NC Justice Center: Raising minimum age of criminal prosecution right move for young people, families, communities

NC Justice Center commends lawmakers across party lines for joining efforts to raise the age

RALEIGH (June 21, 2017) — At long last, it is likely North Carolina will finally raise the minimum age of criminal jurisdiction to age 18 for most criminal offenses.

A bipartisan coalition of nonprofits – including the ACLU of North Carolina, NC Child, Conservatives for Criminal Justice Reform, Disability Rights NC, the Carolina Justice Policy Center, the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, the Campaign for Youth Justice, and the North Carolina Justice Center – has worked hard to support Chief Justice Mark Martin’s recommendation that the General Assembly raise the minimum age of criminal prosecution to 18 years old for misdemeanors and Class F-I felony offenses. Yesterday, we confirmed the goods news that the final compromise budget bill includes provisions that raise the minimum age of criminal prosecution from age 16 to 18 for misdemeanors and Class H and I felony offenses. As importantly, the budget designates funds to fully implement these transformative changes over the next two years.

We commend state lawmakers across party lines for coming together to ensure far fewer of our children will be burdened by criminal records as they apply for jobs and college. Instead, many more will receive family-focused, age-appropriate treatment that is proven to reduce recidivism and improve outcomes.

This is the right move for our state's young people, their families, and communities. Based on the number of probation and prison entries in 2016, the budget’s raise the age provisions will redirect the vast majority of 16- and 17-year-olds accused of criminal offenses to the juvenile justice system, thereby improving and investing in the lives of thousands of children each year.

For example, had these raise the age provisions been in effect in 2016, they would have redirected to the juvenile system:

  • Up to 96 percent of the 603 16-year-olds sentenced to community supervision;
  • 94 percent of the 1,167 17-year-olds sentenced to community supervision;
  • 40 percent of the 25 16-year-olds sentenced to prison;
  • and 50 percent of the 174 17-year-olds sentenced to prison.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT Daniel Bowes, danielb@ncjustice.org, 919.861.2061; Julia Hawes, julia@ncjustice.org, 919.863.2406.