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.”