I wrote an article a few months ago about a community conversation hosted by County Commission Jessica Holmes designed to discuss the role of school resource officers in Wake County schools. During the panel discussion, the Raise the Age movement was discussed.
North Carolina is one of only two states in which 16- and 17-year-olds are considered adults and can enter the adult criminal justice system rather than being seen in family court.
Now it’s the only state. New York just saw a law signed on Monday which would send juveniles accused of misdemeanors to family court instead of criminal court. This means that 16-and 17-year-olds who may have found themselves at Rikers, will have a chance to have their infractions dealt with in a much more forgiving environment. The new law isn’t perfect. Youths accused in nonviolent and violent felony cases would still start in criminal court for their cases, and would be sent to family court after 30 days save for any ‘extraordinary circumstances.’
That leaves North Carolina as the only state in the country in which juveniles, including high school students arrested for minor infractions in school, enter the adult criminal justice system. Advocates of the Raise the Age movement say this creates a school-to-prison pipeline and significantly reduces the chances of affected kids getting access to social services that could help them and having a positive outcome in life.
What New York’s law means for North Carolina is unclear. Bipartisan HB 280 was filed in March and would send non-violent offenses to the juvenile courts rather than adult criminal court. Eyes will be on lawmakers to see if it gains ground.
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Categories: Wake County Schools