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In 2017 the NC legislature made major reforms to the state’s juvenile justice system. We are proud to have played an important role in that historic evidence-based reform.

In 2017, the North Carolina General Assembly enacted legislation raising North Carolina’s juvenile age and implementing a basket of related reforms. “Juvenile age” refers to the age cutoff for when kids who engage in misconduct are sent to the confidential, rehabilitative juvenile justice system; kids above the age cutoff automatically go to the adult criminal justice system. Under the new legislation, North Carolina will no longer send all 16- and 17-year-olds to the adult system. The legislation, which promises to promote public safety and economic prosperity, came on the heels of an evidence-based, consensus recommendation from the North Carolina Commission on the Administration of Law and Justice (NCCALJ). As Reporter to that Commission, Lab Director Smith helped educate stakeholders about the issue, gathered and presented research, and helped develop consensus recommendations for reform. The NCCALJ report recommending this change is provided below, as is a short explanatory video.

Quick Facts

1919: Date that NC set its juvenile age at 16

2017: Date that NC raised its juvenile age to 18

Percentages, convictions of 16 & 17-year olds before raise the age:

3.3%: Violent felonies
80.4%: Misdemeanors
16.3%: Nonviolent felonies

Source: NCCALJ Report

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