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
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.
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.
You can read more about the endorsement of raising the juvenile 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!
Read more detailed information about the introduction of the bill and the history of NC Raise the Age.