CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Beginning December 1, North Carolina will no longer be the only state where 16 and 17-year-olds are treated as adults in the court system.
After December 1, they will go first to juvenile court, and that means a major expansion in the juvenile court system involving the hiring of more prosecutors and building new juvenile detention facilities.
In Charlotte Friday, Professor Jacqui Green from the University of North Carolina led a workshop to explain the workings and benefits of the new law to members of several local police departments and workers involved in the court system.
“The experience everyplace else has been when 16 and 17-year-olds are processed in the juvenile system the outcome for public safety improves,” Green said.
Last month in Charlotte, 74-year-old John Holaday, the CEO of a company called Dispose RX, was shot and killed in uptown. A 16-year-old was charged with the death.
Green said if that shooting happened after December 1, the suspect would first have gone to juvenile court but likely not for long.
“On a finding of probable cause and with the return of an indictment, it would be moved into criminal court and in the end, that person would be tried as an adult,” she explained.
Green said 16 and 17-year-olds would be treated as juveniles for mostly misdemeanor crimes such as shoplifting.
“They’ll get the kind of services that are targeted to adolescents. The kind of services that work to change their behavior. The rate of reoffending goes down and communities are safer.”