N Carolina chief justice speaking out for “raise the age”

Courtesy: nccalj.org

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The head of North Carolina’s court system wants to build momentum for legislation ending the practice of 16- and 17-year-olds being automatically tried for crimes as adults.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Martin spoke at a Legislative Building news conference Monday to back a “raise the age” measure that has bipartisan and law enforcement group support.

North Carolina will be the only state in the country that automatically prosecutes teens as adults since New York legislators agreed in April to a two-year phase out of the practice.

Carteret County Sheriff Asa Buck said it could impact the state budget.

“Sixteen and 17-year-olds would no longer be housed in county jails,” said Buck. “They’d be housed in juvenile housing facilities and that would be an increase in the demand. So there’s a number of different ways it would affect the budget.”

The latest North Carolina proposal would take effect in late 2019, shifting misdemeanor and non-violent felony cases to juvenile court.

The “raise the age” effort got a boost after a blue-ribbon court commission organized by Martin recommended the change.