Action for Children NC is now NC Child: The Voice for North Carolina’s Children. Our website is currently under construction and should be ready this May. In the meantime, you can find all of our publications and data products by clicking on the research and data tab below.

Raise the Age: Keep Children Out of the Adult System

Action for Children advocates for all minors (under age 18) charged with a crime to start in the juvenile justice system, with judges retaining their current authority to transfer youth to the adult system for any felony.

Action for Children and its partners are committed to ensuring the safety of our communities, while fostering positive development, so that the youth of today can become healthy, productive adults of tomorrow. North Carolina is one of only two states in the nation that prosecute all 16- and 17-year-olds charged with a crime in the adult criminal justice system, regardless of the severity of their alleged crimes. We advocate for developmentally appropriate, research-based services and treatment for court-involved minors, including 16- and 17-year-olds.

Research and data make it clear that our juvenile justice system is the right place to serve juveniles, reserving adult courts for the most serious, chronic and violent offenders. The juvenile system provides age-appropriate adjudication, services, treatment and punishment while giving youth time to grow up and mature. The time has come for North Carolina to join 48 other states and re-evaluate state law in light of scientific research and data and to ensure 16- and 17-year-olds receive developmentally appropriate services and treatment in the juvenile system.

What Can You Do to Help? Click here for more information.
06/12/2013 Update: Youth Offenders Rehabilitation Act (HB 725) has cleared its first hurtle in the NC House to raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction from 16 to 18 for misdemeanors. This bill, which has bi-partisan support, passed in the Judiciary A subcommittee. It will now head to the Appropriations Committee.

HB 217, which includes a section to reduce the age of juvenile jurisdiction for 15 year olds accused of a Class B1 or B2 felony, passed the NC House and will soon head to the Senate. Please stay tuned for ways to oppose this bill which REVERSES much of the work we've accomplished on raising the age.

Current RTA Campaign Activities

  • Sign on to the Raise the Age Petition: Tell North Carolina’s leaders that it’s past time to join the rest of the country by reading and signing on to the Raise the Age Petition. Every signature counts! Tell them to throw out this nearly 100-year-old law and put 16- and 17-year-olds in the juvenile justice system, where they can be treated, rehabilitated, educated, counseled, and prepared for a successful life. Help us deliver 10,000 signatures to the NC General Assembly.
  • Share these 30 second videos with your friends via email, Facebook, Twitter, etc. The first video is about Cydney, who was arrested for a schoolyard scuffle and now has a permanent record. The second video outlines how the juvenile system is actually tougher on crime and more successful at rehabilitation.
                    
  • Click here to see a video of Durham youth organization Spirit House performing poetry on juvenile justice issues at the 2011 Children's Advocacy Day.
  • Click here to see videos from the June 2011 Raise the Age press conference with Representative Marilyn Avila (R-Wake), Senator Floyd McKissick (D-Durham), Police Chief Frank Palombo of New Bern, and Justice Bob Orr.
  • Learn More:  Read these fact sheets on raising the age of juvenile court jurisdiction and share them with your friends, family and state legislators. Contact us if you would like more information: rtagrassrootsnc@gmail.com.

Resources

Foster Grassroots Support: Take Action!
Action for Children and partners will be working during 2013 to move this issue forward by building a grassroots movement across the state, with an eye toward passing legislation in 2013. Help get your community behind raising the age by contacting the RTA campaign at rtagrassrootsnc@gmail.com.

Share Your Story: Your Voice Matters!
We need to hear from North Carolina’s youth, young adults and families affected by the juvenile and/or adult criminal justice systems.  Action for Children has been conducting a “Youth Speak” initiative to collect and disseminate to legislators and other key officials the stories of youth and young adults impacted by N.C.’s treatment of 16- and 17-year-olds as adults for minor crimes. Please download and complete our "Share Your Story" Form here and send it to rtagrassrootsnc@gmail.com.

Legislative Information: 

THANK YOU to everyone who has advocated to raise the age of juvenile court jurisdiction in NC from 16 to 18 for youth accused of minor crimes. Thanks to your action, bi-partisan support for the issue has never been stronger. A bill has been entered was heard in May 2012 and unanimously passed the Judiciary A committee. We'll update you on its progress and call on you to advocate again. If you haven't yet signed the petition, please do so now!

For a link to HB 725, please click here.

06/12/2013 UpdateYouth Offenders Rehabilitation Act (HB 725) has cleared its first hurtle in the NC House to raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction from 16 to 18 for misdemeanors. This bill, which has bi-partisan support, passed in the Judiciary A subcommittee. It will now head to the Appropriations Committee.

HB 217, which includes a section to reduce the age of juvenile jurisdiction for 15 year olds accused of a Class B1 or B2 felony, passed the NC House and will soon head to the Senate. Please stay tuned for ways to oppose this bill which REVERSES much of the work we've accomplished on raising the age.

Brief History of the RTA Campaign (2008-2012):

During the 2008 legislative session, Action for Children and its partners advocated for the development of a comprehensive plan to phase 16- and 17-year-old children into the juvenile justice system with adequate resources so that they can receive a developmentally appropriate, research-based continuum of services. The 2008-09 state budget allocated $200,000 for the Governor's Crime Commission to study this issue.

During the 2009 legislative session, Action for Children and partners continued our work on HB 1414 (Youth Accountability Act) to bring 16- and 17-year-olds into the juvenile justice system. The Youth Accountability Act was not passed this session; however, the task force portion of the bill was included in the 2009-2010 budget as a special provision.

The final 2009-10 budget established the Youth Accountability Planning Task Force, a group of legislators, juvenile justice department officials and judicial representatives who worked for 18 months to create an implementation plan for moving 16 and 17 year olds from the adult system to the juvenile system. The task force recommended in January 2011 that youth under age 18 accused of minor crimes should be handled in the juvenile justice system, while 16- and 17-year-olds accused of serious felonies should remain in the adult system. Click here to see the Task Force's final report. For more information on the Youth Accountability Task Force, please visit www.ncdjjdp.org/taskforce.html

In January 2011, Governor Perdue issued an executive order extending the Youth Accountability and Planning Task Force until 2012 so that the group can continue their work. Bipartisan bills to raise the age were filed in both the House and Senate during the 2011 session of the General Assembly: HB 632 and SB 506. Thanks to the work of our legislative sponsors, Raise the Age was heard, in May 2012.

In late summer of 2012, legislative leaders established the Age of Juvenile Offenders Committee to study implementation of raising the age as part of juvenile justice reform. The Committee met between August and December 2012. In late December, the Committee recommended that NC raise the age of juvenile court jurisdiction from 16 to 18 for youth who commit misdemeanors. Click here for a link to the Committee's website.

More Information

The materials and opinions expressed in the following links are not necessarily those of Action for Children North Carolina. Action for Children does not endorse specific organizations, events, individuals, curricula or best practices implementation.

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