Keeping North Carolina’s Children out of Adult Prisons and Jails

Youth kept in adult jails are 36 time more likely to commit suicide than those in juvenile facilities


of young offenders are charged with misdemeanors


of youth currently in the adult prison system are African-African

Raising the Age and Supporting North Carolina Youth

Implementing Recent Legislation

We are actively involved in planning for the successful implementation of recent legislation which raised the age of juvenile jurisdiction in North Carolina from 16 to 18.  We are involved with the Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee, which is charged with overseeing the implementation.

School Justice

As more North Carolina schools take a proactive role in keeping kids out of the criminal justice system, we are spreading the word about the effectiveness of school-justice partnerships.  These partnerships are agreements between school stakeholders and stakeholders in the justice system about what disciplinary actions should be handled outside of the criminal justice system.

Help Us Keep North Carolina's Children Out of Adult Prisons and Jails

North Carolina was the last state to pass a law making sure teens ages 16 and 17 will not automatically be charged as adults for all crimes. Today, we ask that you join our fight to make sure the law is properly implemented and funded, so our children don’t end up in adult prisons and jails.

From Our Blog: Raise the Age Updates

A Brief Look at the Work Done to Raise the Age in NC

In June of 2017, The North Carolina General Assembly incorporated the Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act into the state budget. Because of this law, North Carolina is no longer the only state that automatically prosecutes 16 and 17-year-olds as adults. This is a huge victory for many advocates who fought hard for this necessary change.  Now, juvenile jurisdiction for nonviolent crimes extends to age 18. This change, however, excludes motor vehicle offenses. Additionally, some serious (class A-G) felonies committed by 16 and 17-year-olds are assigned to adult courts.

Advocates had been working towards raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction for several years, but a major shift towards the passage of the legislation occurred in 2015. That year, Mark Martin, the Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, called for a study on the courts of North Carolina and areas for improvement. The North Carolina Commission on the Administration of Law and Justice proposed a ‘Raise the Age’ law with the input of involved actors, such as law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, and juvenile justice advocates.  The resulting “Juvenile Reinvestment Report” stated how raising the age had the potential to save money for the state by reducing crime and lowering recidivism. The final Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act closely follows these recommendations.

The law was passed with bipartisan support and the backing of the law enforcement community.  The Carolina Justice Policy Center was heavily involved with organizing efforts that lead to its passage.


Research provides every reason to be hopeful about the change that raising the age will bring about. When 16 and 17-year-olds are managed by the juvenile justice system instead of the adult criminal justice system, recidivism rates are cut in half. Raising the age not only saves money for the state, but also benefits children, as the juvenile justice system is better equipped to respond to their specific needs. For example, it has the resources to help the two-thirds of children in the criminal justice system who have disabilities.

The portion of the legislation which raises the age will take effect in December of 2019, although other parts of the law will be implemented sooner. The budget also included $13.2 million set aside for building a new youth development center in Rockingham County. Other changes address victims’ rights, how information is given to law enforcement, juvenile records, and gang activity of juveniles.

The Juvenile Justice Committee, established by the Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act, is involved in planning for the implementation of the law and its accompanying changes. The Carolina Justice Policy has maintained involvement with this committee. The committee will give annual reports to the General Assembly of North Carolina until 2023.