Report: Let 16-year-olds be juveniles

Report: Let 16-year-olds be juveniles

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Child advocates say treating youth as adults causes increase in crime



North Carolina, one of only three states where 16-year-olds are treated as adults in the criminal justice system, should raise that age to 18, child advocates argue in a report scheduled to be released today.

The report highlights a new study from an affiliate of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that suggests treating youth as adults increases crime.

The issue has divided the General Assembly, pitting child advocates against law enforcement. Supporters of the current law say that it helps crime victims and that the juvenile system is already underfunded.

The law has been in place since 1919.

"In addition to research on brain development, national and state data have shown that sending youth through the juvenile justice system improves public safety while increasing the likelihood that youth will go on to be productive, crime-free adults," concludes the new report from Action for Children North Carolina, based in Raleigh.

It adds, "North Carolina law does not incorporate this knowledge into its treatment of 16- and 17-year-olds in the criminal justice system." (more…)

About the author

Chris Fitzsimon, Founder and Executive Director of N.C. Policy Watch, writes the Fitzsimon File, delivers a radio commentary broadcast on WRAL-FM and hosts "News and Views," a weekly radio news magazine that airs on multiple stations across North Carolina.