New bill looks to prosecute 16 and 17 year olds as juveniles

Greenville, N.C. (WNCT) – Legislation in the general assembly could change the way people under the age of 18 are prosecuted.

It’s currently up for discussion in the state house and if it’s passed, most 16 and 17 year old’s would be tried as juveniles.

North Carolina is one of just two states which tries 16 and 17 year old’s as adults.

However, if the Juvenile Justice Reinvestment bill is passed, that would change.

Some feel the state isn’t doing all it can to serve its youth.

If the bill is passed, it wouldn’t punish most minors, but instead, help reform them and put them on the path to a better life.

“Things like mentor programs, counseling services, mental and behavioral support services are great things that reduce recidivism,” says Kinston Teens founder and CEO Christopher Suggs.  “It would actually help them have a greater historic life, so when they are adults they can get back to the job market and get back into school to get their adult education.”

The decisions to try teens would happen on a case by case basis.

Tuesday night, Kinston Teens and the Kinston-Lenoir branch of the NAACP will screen a short film which highlights the importance of raising the age.

Afterward, there will be a community panel discussion to explain the bill’s impact and its effects in Kinston and Lenoir County.

That’s happening at 6 at Neuse Regional Library.

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