Women, Youth & Children


increase in the incarceration rate of women from 1980-2015

women in North Carolina are in prison, jail, on probation or on parole

women are incarcerated in North Carolina state prisons

In 2017, there were 81 women who delivered babies while incarcerated in North Carolina. Nationwide, an estimated 6-10% of the female prison population is thought to be pregnant. Because prisons are not mandated to provide physical or mental health care services, there is no oversight to ensure that a pregnant or postnatal women’s medical needs are met. Although North Carolina prisons no longer will permit the use of leg or waist restraints on pregnant inmates at certain times during labor, there is still much more work needed to ensure women and their babies do not suffer lasting trauma from incarceration.

After years of advocating, North Carolina finally became the last state in the United States to raise the age a teenager can be tried as an adult from 16 to 18. However, continued advocacy is needed to ensure the law is fully funded and implemented, as there are those who still oppose this law and believe children should be tried as adults. 

Finally, we believe today’s youth are an untapped resource in the fight for criminal justice reform. High-school and college-age youth, especially those whose lives have been impacted by the criminal justice system, have great leadership potential, but lack opportunities for training in effective advocacy. With our Summer Youth Leadership Program, we are working to spark a movement of young advocates empowered to effectively engage in the work of criminal justice reform.

Perinatal Incarceration Initiative

 The Carolina Justice Policy Center aims to bring awareness to the current state of perinatal incarceration, to engage women in creative projects that promote stronger bonds with their new families, and to support young children of incarcerated women.
As a result, we hope to mobilize community members to advocate for perinatal women who are incarcerated.

Summer Youth Leadership Program

Students in our Summer Youth Leadership Program dive deeply into the causes of and solutions for the problems that plague North Carolina’s criminal justice, including mass incarceration, bail reform, juvenile justice, bias, and police accountability. They also receive real-world advocacy experience and opportunities to connect with local leaders in the criminal justice community.

Raise the Age Implementation

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. Through our service on the Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee, which is charged with overseeing the implementation, we fight against loopholes and “carve outs” that would create pathways for children to be tried as adults.

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.