The chief justice of North Carolina's top court threw his support behind legislation to raise the age of juvenile offenders.
North Carolina is now the only state to automatically try 16- and 17-year-olds as adults in criminal court. But Supreme Court Justice Mark Martin says it's time for that to change.
"Our own Department of Public Safety conducted surveys on this issue which reflected that over 90 percent of parents already thought that 18 was the age for adult jurisdiction," Martin said.
During a press conference to rally support for the bill, Martin highlighted that North Carolina is the only state that has not upped the age limit to try defendants as adults. He said that teenage mistakes can follow North Carolinians into their adulthood as they seek employment. In other states, an error in judgment made by a 17-year-old would have a smaller impact on his ability to find employment later in life.
"Now I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but North Carolina now stands alone. We are the only state in the country that automatically prosecutes 16 year olds, charged with minor, nonviolent offenses in adult court," Martin said.
Martin appeared at the General Assembly Monday to advocate for House Bill 280, also known as the Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act. Martin was joined by a large group of officials from across the political spectrum.
A survey from the Department of Public Safety found that some 90 percent of North Carolina parents already thought that 18 was the age for adult jurisdiction.