Advocates: Raise The Age For Juvenile Offenders

Mar 16, 2011

Advocates for young people were at the legislature yesterday, pressing lawmakers on children's issues.  One issue for advocates is North Carolina's policy of charging 16 and 17-year-olds as adults in the criminal justice system. 

Brandy Bynum from Action for Children North Carolina says she hears from young people who get caught in the adult system for relatively minor offenses:

"One of the examples is a young lady who got into a scuffle at school, she was 17. She was charged with disorderly conduct as an adult, that’s an adult charge, right? There was no weapons, no blood involved, no one was physically hurt… none of that. So she was hauled off in the back of a police car, her picture was put on the front page of the newspaper, her picture was put on the front page of the Slammer, and this is in a small community, and this is just because of a scuffle that happened at school."

Bynum says the juvenile system does a better job of tracking kids, getting parents involved and shepherding young people through rehabilitation. North Carolina and New York are the only states that still routinely charge 16 and 17-year-olds as adults.