Raise The Age Legislation a Hollow Victory Without Funding

Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed a budget , sent to him by the Republican controlled legislature, despite knowing his veto would likely be overridden. Cooper felt that the budget did not do enough for educators or to protect the environment and was too generous to corporations and the wealthy. But, for people who care about criminal justice reform, this budget presented other important shortfalls. One important area this budget fails to fully address is juvenile justice and funding raise the age.

Raise The Age: General Assembly budget did fund two important part of Raise The Age: additional juvenile court counselors and construction for a new juvenile facility. Many other necessary components to successfully implementing Raise the Age were ignored.

Specifically, for the children of North Carolina to truly benefit from raising the juvenile age, our General Assembly must provide funding for Juvenile Crime Prevention Council programs. According to William L. Lassiter, Deputy Secretary for Juvenile Justice, these programs establish court ordered sanctions and services for juveniles including victim restitution, restorative justice, court-ordered mediation, community service counseling programs and vocational skill development.

Other important components to Raise The Age that were not properly funded are:

  • community-based residential contracts
  • transportation drivers and additional vans
  • the Administrative Office of the Courts for additional ADAs, legal assistants, District Court Judges and Deputy Clerks.
  • the Office of the Juvenile Defender

Carolina Justice Policy Center is proud of the work we did to help get the Raise The Age legislation passed, but there is so much more work to be done. Please, consider calling your legislators and reminding them that raising the juvenile age means nothing without proper funding!

NCAOC Develops School Justice Partnership Toolkit

The North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts is developing a Toolkit for chief district court judges and other stakeholders to implement School Justice Partnerships. The Toolkit provides resources to help community partners develop and implement the School Justice Partnership, including action lists, timelines, a model agreement, and templates for other necessary documents. The School Justice Partnership (SJP) is a group of community stakeholders – including school administrators, the law enforcement community, court system actors, juvenile justice personnel, and others – that develops and implements effective strategies to address student misconduct. SJPs work to reduce the number of suspensions, expulsions, and referrals to the justice system by timely and constructively addressing student misconduct when and where it happens, helping students succeed in school and preventing negative outcomes for both youth and their communities. Learn more here.

Governor Cooper Signs Raise the Age Proclamation

Last Friday, Governor Roy Cooper signed a proclamation celebrating that 16 and 17 year olds will no longer be tried in adult court for misdemeanor charges.  While teens accused of violent felonies and some drug crimes may still be charged as adults, the progress made towards raising the age is certainly something to celebrate.  The change will take effect in 2019.

Cooper also signed Senate Bill 445 into law.   This law reduces the wait time for criminal record expungement for first time, nonviolent offenders.  Previously, the wait time was 15 years for all offenses.  The law has now changed the waiting period to 10 years for nonviolent felonies and 5 years for nonviolent misdemeanors.

Learn more about the raise the age proclamation and the expungement law at https://governor.nc.gov/news/governor-cooper-signs-criminal-justice-bill-and-raise-age-proclamation

NC One Step Closer to Raising the Age

With a 104 to 8 vote, the North Carolina House of Representatives passed the Raise The Age bill.  The Senate now has the bill for consideration. The Senate budget does include policy language supporting Raise The Age legislation, however no funds were allocated in the Senate budget. The recently passed House budget includes both language and funds supporting Raise The Age legislation. This is a major step towards finally raising the age in North Carolina.
The next step for Raise the Age will likely happen during budget negotiations.  The House and the Senate must hash out the differences in their budgets.  It is important that we maintain as much of the original bill as possible, most importantly including low level felonies.  Please reach out to your elected representatives and let them know you want North Carolina to raise the age on all misdemeanors and low level felonies.  North Carolina deserve to get a fair chance in life like the children in every other state in the nation.

Raise the Age Press Conference

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.”