NC Passes Bill That Raises Juvenile Prosecution Age
North Carolina lawmakers have passed legislation that raises the age that juveniles can be prosecuted,
The bill says only children 8 and older can be prosecuted in the state's juvenile courts; that’s up from 6 years old — which is the lowest age for juvenile adjudication set by law in the country. State Sen. Mujtaba Mohammed says the bill will allow state services to help children under 10 in a way that doesn’t involve juvenile courts.
"We’re still going be able to help thousands of children that are in our justice system who are 10 and under," Mohammed said. "And hopefully they’ll get to stay in a classroom, hopefully they’ll get the support services they need out of the classroom, outside of a courtroom or outside of a detention center where they belong.”
Critics of the legislation say the age limit doesn’t go far enough, and that the minimum age should be closer to 12 or 14.
Mohammed acknowledged the criticism, but also said that this bill should only be looked at as the start of the journey.
"We still have a lot of progress to make on this front, and I’m hoping in the coming months and coming years we can move forward with positive change in our juvenile justice laws,” he said.
Mohammed added that while this legislation is a start, there are still a few children that are too young to be in the juvenile justice system.
"My counterpart, Sen. (Danny) Britt, brought up that some of these kids still believe in the tooth fairy and Santa Claus, still,
he said. "And to see them in our criminal justice system is absolutely disheartening."
The bill now heads to Gov. Roy Cooper.