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Cooper shows support for “Raise the Age” legislation in proposed budget

Gov. Roy Cooper released his budget Wednesday with some financial support for “Raise the Age” legislation.

A bill to raise the juvenile age of prosecution from 16 to 18 is expected to be introduced a little later this session. North Carolina and New York are currently the only two states that prosecute juveniles as adults.

There has been a groundswell of support for raising the age since N.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice’s Mark Martin’s Courts Commission recommended it. It seems now that Cooper is also giving his nod of approval.

In his proposed budget, Cooper appropriates $1 million during the 2017-18 fiscal year to “Raise the Age” initiatives and a recurring $5 million the year after. He also proposes a $13.2 million appropriation next fiscal year to to construct and furnish a new Youth Development Center.

The money, of course, would be contingent upon the General Assembly enacting “Raise the Age” legislation.

Susanna Birdsong, Policy Counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, said it was great to see the governor showing his support for “Raise the Age,” but the numbers don’t reflect what would be needed to fully implement such legislation.

“Personnel is going to be the biggest cost,” she said. “It’s going to be a significant investment.”

She added that the numbers in Cooper’s budget are acting as placeholders for now and that she was encouraged to see state government get behind the policy change of raising the age.

In Cooper’s budget, he highlights the need to keep kids out of crime and reduce repeat offenses as goals for the justice and public safety portion of the budget.

Justice and public safety funding accounts for 11.77 percent of the overall 2017-18 budget, or $2,763,265,448. It accounts for 11.62 percent of the 2018-19 budget, or $2,771,116,166.

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