Mecklenburg County Commissioners asked to support 'Raise the Age' legislation

A new effort is in the works that would have a major impact in North Carolina's justice system.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Mecklenburg County Commission is being asked to support legislation that has come to be called, "Raise the Age.'

The law would raise the age of consideration as a juvenile from 16 to 18 and would do away with trying young offenders in adult courts.

"We are the last state in the Union that has not done this," said Commissioner Pat Cotham, who is expected to ask her fellow Commissioners to support the legislation that is now before the General Assembly in Raleigh. 

North Carolina, in fact, is the only state that still allows 16- and 17-year olds to be tried in adult courts and serve time in adult prisons.

Frank Crawford is part of a group called the Children's Alliance that also supports raising the age.

"Sixteen-year-olds can't buy cigarettes or alcohol, but you can send them to adult prisons, which is like graduate school for gangs," Crawford said.

Cotham says statistics from other states show the rate of recidivism has decreased when the age is raised.

"It helps these kids go on a path to education and responsibility as opposed to being with hardened criminals in adult prisons," she said.

Cotham hopes if the County Commission agrees to support the legislation that will help send a message to the General Assembly that it should vote to raise the age.

© 2017 WCNC.COM


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