Following the passage of New York’s state budget, which included a “raise the age” measure keeping 16 and 17 year olds charged with misdemeanors or non-violent felonies from being prosecuted as adults, North Carolina will soon become the lone state to charge 16 and 17 year olds as adults. However, there are several bills currently under consideration by our state’s leaders that would raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction in North Carolina and bring our state in alignment with the rest of the nation.
The NC Chamber’s Legal Institute first expressed support for implementing “raise the age” measures last year. Such measures would reduce juvenile recidivism, improve public safety and mitigate rising costs in North Carolina’s criminal justice system. After examining the “Juvenile Reinvestment” report, which called on the General Assembly to enact “raise the age” legislation, the NC Chamber’s Legal Institute sent this letter to North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Martin backing the report’s recommendations and urging action.
“Raise the age” measures like Senate Bill 146, Senate Bill 549, Senate Bill 564 and House Bill 280 would both benefit North Carolina’s judicial system and bolster North Carolina’s education and talent supply systems. As Rep. Jon Hardister described in a recent op-ed published in the News & Record, “by keeping teens in juvenile court, they will not be permanently limited by an adult criminal record, which would impact their ability to pursue higher education, serve in the military or find a job.” Increasing the likelihood of successful reform for juvenile offenders improves the chances that they will one day contribute their talents to our state’s elite workforce. As we work to cultivate world-class talent ready to take on the jobs of tomorrow, we must support measures that will strengthen our education and talent supply. We will continue to update you on our leaders’ progress tackling this important issue as they consider the proposed raise the age measures.
Gary J. Salamido
Vice President, Government Affairs
North Carolina Chamber