Friday, March 23, 2007

Criminal Justice

Legislation introduced in both chambers proposes to increase the age at which young offenders are automatically treated as adults from 16 to 18, and establishes a task force to examine how to treat older juvenile offenders. North Carolina is one of only three states that automatically treat 16- and 17-year-olds as adults in court. Rep. Alice Bordsen, chair of the Juvenile Justice Committee and sponsor of the House measure, said changing the law wouldn't take away prosecutors' ability to try teenagers as adults in the most serious cases. State law allows someone as young as 13 to be tried as an adult on a felony charge, if a judge agrees. The proposals follow recommendations made in December, 2006 by a legislative study commission that found older teens sent to adult prisons had a higher rate of repeat offenses and were more likely to commit more violent crimes.

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