North Carolina was the last state in the U.S. to end the automatic prosecution of 16- and 17-year-old juveniles as adults when the General Assembly passed the Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act (JJRA) in 2017. As a result, 16- and 17-year-olds charged with non-violent crimes on or after Dec. 1, 2019, will be considered to be under the jurisdiction of the juvenile justice system, pursuant only to specific exceptions.
Often referred to as “Raise the Age,” the JJRA is overseen by the Juvenile Jurisdiction Advisory Committee, a group comprised of court counselors, judges, human services professionals, law enforcement, juvenile law experts, and others with years of experience related to juvenile justice tasked with bringing recommendations to ensure the effective implementation of JJRA. Successful implementation hinges on the adequate funding of the JJRA.
The Juvenile Jurisdiction Advisory Committee recommended state funding for successful implementation of the act as follows:
- Juvenile Justice: $47.6 million in FY 20; $62.7 million in FY 21; and $57.3 million annualized.
- Administrative Office of the Courts: $2.9 million in FY 20; and $2.8 million annualized.
- Office of the Juvenile Defender: $122,000 recurring beginning FY 20.
- Conference of District Attorneys: $125,589 recurring and $3,752 non-recurring beginning FY20.
- The Committee also recommends funding the courts’ existing deficiencies $15.1 million in FY 20; and $14.5 million annualized.
The breakdown includes funding for court services, detention operation, educational and vocational training and related career planning and support, and Juvenile Crime Prevention Councils. A signature component of the Raise the Age approach, Juvenile Crime Prevention Councils (JCPC) bring community leaders together to review the needs of juveniles in the county who are at risk of delinquency or who have been adjudicated delinquent. JCPCs review existing services and make determinations about service and resource gaps to address youth needs, and evaluate program performance in order to ensure appropriate and effective resources exist to meet identified needs of system involved youth, with the ultimate goal of preventing interaction with the both the juvenile and adult criminal justice systems.
So far, proposed budgets fall short of full funding for Raise the Age. Read more