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We are at a pivotal moment to change the lives of kids in communities across our state. North Carolina is one of only two states in the country that still charges 16- and 17-year-olds as adults in our criminal justice system, without exception. We can change this outdated policy, but we need your help!
Right now in North Carolina, any 16- or 17-year-old who makes one bad decision and is charged with even the most minor offense—like stealing a candy bar—is housed in an adult jail, where they face an increased risk of suicide and sexual assault. They are also branded with a criminal record that will make it harder for them to go to college, find a job, and contribute to society—putting North Carolina's young people at a competitive disadvantage compared to youth in other states.
Luckily, the North Carolina Commission on the Administration of Law and Justice, a group formed by N.C. Chief Justice Mark Martin, is recommending that North Carolina joins the rest of the country and create alternatives for most youthful offenders, where they can avoid a lifelong criminal record and access programs that can help turn their life around.
Will you sign our letter telling the Commission that NC MomsRising members support this long overdue change? We’ll deliver it directly to the Commission. Sign here:
North Carolinians have been working for years to raise North Carolina's age of juvenile jurisdiction so that youthful offenders are given a chance to change course.
Adolescents are not adults. We know from our own experience and a growing body of research that a youth’s ability to make sound, responsible decisions is not fully developed. For decades, our public policy has acknowledged this very basic fact: children under 18 are not allowed to smoke, vote, or join the armed services, because we have decided as a society that important and potentially life-changing decisions should not be made during one’s youth.
And, yet, our current state policy prosecutes 16- and 17-year-olds as though they are adults, with significant consequences.
An adult record impacts future success in a number of areas of life including housing, employment, education, and military service. But even worse, kids in adult prisons are 36 times more likely to commit suicide, and much more likely to be sexually assaulted.
African-American kids are 62% of the youth prosecuted in the adult criminal system and are nine times more likely than white youth to receive an adult prison sentence. 
Right now in North Carolina there is not a SINGLE county jail in full compliance with federal guidelines to protect young people from being sexually assaulted, even though the guidelines were issued more than 2 years ago. We need to get kids out of adult jails.
Will you sign MomsRising’s letter in support of raising the age for juvenile jurisdiction? We are at a critical moment, and your voice can help push us over the finish line! Sign now:
Placing 16- and 17-year-olds in the juvenile criminal justice system is a more effective approach as it involves parents in a treatment plan and provides mental health services, drug treatment, and other intensive interventions as needed.
As a result, multiple studies show that 16- and 17-year-olds in the juvenile justice system are far less likely to reoffend than those prosecuted in the adult criminal justice system.
But treating 16- and 17-year-olds in the juvenile system doesn’t just lead to safer communities and better outcomes for children, it’s also fiscally beneficial because it decreases recidivism, which leads to long-term savings in criminal justice, education, and health care.
It’s long past time for NC to raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction, and give our state’s kids a chance to get back on the right path. The Commission represents our best hope yet of making this happen, and it’s critical that they hear from you. Add your name to our letter of support right now!

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