On Tuesday, May 2nd, Mecklenburg County Commissioners approved a resolution to raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction. Mecklenburg County Commissioner Pat Cotham brought the resolution forward with strong bipartisan support.
On May 1, a press conference was hosted by Chief Justice Mark Martin to discuss efforts to raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction in North Carolina. Those in attendance included a sampling of judges, attorneys, community and advocacy organizations, DPS officials, and faith leaders. The press conference follows the recent development of North Carolina becoming the only state in nation to automatically try 16 and 17 year olds in adult court. Various speakers shared their support including former Lieutenant Governor Jim Gardner, Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison, U.S Magistrate Judge William Webb, and Representative Murray.
Some facts shared about Raise the Age included that a recent Civitas poll indicated that 70 percent of North Carolinians supported raising the age, and that a DPS survey indicated that over 90 percent of parents already thought that 18 was the age of jurisdiction. The effort to raise the age now has the support of the John Locke Foundation, Conservatives for Criminal Justice Reform, the Sheriff’s Association, the Chief of Police Association, and the NC Police Benevolent Association.
A more emotional appeal came from former Governor Lieutenant Gardner, who said that he was offering his support as a grandfather of 9 children. He shared his belief that mistakes made as children should not follow individuals throughout adulthood, and that raising the age was “long overdue.”
The Wake County Board of Commissioners is the latest group to join the growing list of supporters for raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction in North Carolina. According to Indy Weekly, the commissioners stressed that teenagers should be allowed to make mistakes that do not follow them the rest of their lives.
A bipartisan bill was filed in the North Carolina House of Representatives on March 8. The Commission does not typically weigh in on legislative matters unless they are of particular importance to the citizens it represents. Commissioner Matt Calabria was quoted saying, “I do not think this is about being soft on crime, but it’s about doing the smart thing.”
Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison was also at the press conference to show his support for raising the age.
The Carolina Justice Policy Center, as one of the members of the Raise the Age Coalition, has worked for over a decade to raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction in North Carolina. Wednesday, March 8, 2017, we moved a giant step closer.
With 68 bi-partisan primary and co-sponsors, House Bill 280, entitled the Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act, establishes that a 16- or 17-year-old that commits certain crimes will be tried as a juvenile – not as an adult. While the bill does include low level felonies, violent felonies and some drug offenses would still be tried in adult court for 16 and 17 year olds.
Republican U.S. Sen. Tillis, according to the News and Observer, offered his support of the proposed legislation and juvenile justice reform on Twitter.
CJPC is extremely proud of the work our organization has done to get this bill introduced. We will continue to keep you informed on the progress of the bill and let you know what YOU can do to be a part of this important movement towards juvenile justice reform!
The Raise the Age Coalition is building momentum towards finally making substantive change to the laws in North Carolina. The North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association is the latest group to throw its support behind raising the age in North Carolina.
Previously, the Association’s Executive Committee voted to support raising the age. Just this month, the entire body voted to adopted the recommendation of the Executive Committee.
The Sheriff”s Association has been a long-running and vocal opponent of raising the age in the past. Their support marks a major step towards making history in North Carolina and raising the age of adjudication for juveniles. As a member of the coalition, we applaud the Sheriff’s Association for supporting this important initiative.