Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Raise the Age

Not sure many of you know, but North Carolina is one of only two states that charges ALL 16 and 17 year olds as adults in the criminal justice system, automatically.  There is no option, currently, to treat 16 and 17 year olds as juveniles.  This means that even for a minor offense there is no treatment plan (currently available in the juvenile system), and the youth will have a permanent record, thus possibly preventing them from attending college or obtaining a job.  This needs to stop.  North Carolina really needs to come up to the rest of the country and provide for the option of treating 16 and 17 year olds, charged with minor offenses, as juveniles.

I am attending an public hearing by the NC Commission on the Administration of Law and Justice, in Asheville NC.  If any of my friends that live up that way want to join me, it will be held on Thursday August 18, 6:00PM, at the Buncombe County Judicial Complex, Jury Assembly Suite, 2nd floor, room 272, Court Plaza, Asheville.

This is a big step for me and I would love the company.  I don't plan on speaking but am there to support those who are speaking in support of raising the age.  If you support raising the age, please attend, speak if you would like.  You can find a little more information at the Color of Change web site.

Here are a few facts:
MYTH (AND MISTAKE): Raise the Age means being soft on crime.
REALITY: Raise the Age is tougher on offenders —the juvenile system is punishment and treatment-oriented. The juvenile system holds youth and parents accountable unlike the adult system. Raise the Age only applies to young people who commit low level offenses. Serious, violent offenders will remain in the adult system. Also, the transfer law won’t change—judges still retain the discretion to transfer any youth age 13 or older accused of any felony to adult court. The fact is, 16- and 17-year-olds sentenced to the adult system end up with higher re-arrest rates than all youthful offenders ages 13 to 21. The juvenile system is tough, and it works.

MYTH (AND MISTAKE): Many youth are serious, repeat offenders.
REALITY: The fact is, most offenses committed by youth are minor and most youth are first time offenders. Of 16 and 17-year-olds: 79% are accused of misdemeanors. 18% are accused of low-level felonies (class F-I). Only 3 percent are accused of serious felonies (class A-E). 67% are first-time offenders; another 21% have committed one minor offense—most often a misdemeanor.

You can find more myths vs realities on the Raise the Age Advocacy Guide.

See you all there!

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