Children You can prosecute up to 6 years old North Carolina Although it is a juvenile court (the minimum age required by law in the country), bipartisan efforts have raised the minimum age of misconduct to 10 and the state will move out of the lowest position.
According to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, more than 2,100 complaints were filed against approximately 1,150 young people under the age of 10 during the three fiscal years 2016-2019. black The children were disproportionately accused of cheating. The data show that 211 children between the ages of 6 and 9 appeared before the judge, 54 of whom were ultimately responsible for the complaint.
State prison officials say children under the age of 10 were not put in jail during that period, but lawyers, advocates of racial justice, and lawmakers said the appearance of the court itself was a permanent harm. I am concerned that it may bring about.
Barbara Fedders, director of the Youth Justice Clinic at the University of North Carolina Law School, said: “If we can’t find a better way to deal with these issues than prosecution, we feel unhappy with them all.”
In 2014, the Fedders clinic represented a 6-year-old boy in the Raleigh area who threw rocks into the windows of an empty apartment. The black child, scared away from his mother, confessed to a police officer on the scene. In the next few months, the boy and his mother went to court twice and were absent from school because the real estate owner wanted money for a broken window. The clinic dismissed the proceedings, claiming that children under the age of seven could not form a criminal intent.
Dallam County Democrat and former judge Marcia Morey remembers the children sitting on an oversized swivel desk in court. The most disturbing thing for her was the case she rejected around 2010, throwing dice at the buildings of public housing estates aged 7, 8, and 11.
“I was just stunned. They took these kids to court to throw the dice,” Molly said.
Legislators set a minimum age of 6 for North Carolina’s misconduct in 1979, when strict criminal law was common, and some viewed the juvenile justice system as a means of providing the resources needed for children and their parents. I was there.
According to a March report from the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, 28 states and Washington, DC have no age designation. Connecticut, Maryland, New York With Massachusetts California The 12-year-old boy has the highest threshold. Twelve states allow a 10-year-old boy to be prosecuted in juvenile court, with a minimum age of eight in three states and a minimum age of 11 in one state.
Approximately 600 juvenile court counselors are tasked with deciding how to proceed with a complaint.
Most complaints came from the school environment, with more than 43% being rejected from the beginning. Nearly two-fifths of complaints were diverted to other agencies, but one-tenth of referrals were eventually settled in court because the child or parent did not meet their obligations, such as mandatory counseling. It was. In about one-sixth of the cases, court counselors complained directly to judges.
Law enforcement officers can temporarily detain a child for up to 12 hours, but the state does not track how often this happens. Over the past five years, one 9-year-old and two 8-year-olds have been admitted to the Juvenile Crisis Assessment Center after the proceedings were decided in court. The center is a short-term unsafe residential environment.
There is insufficient data to determine if states with the minimum age law are more likely to see higher prosecution rates among young people than states without such specifications. Amy Borror, a judicial system analyst at the National Juvenile Defender Center, said one thing in common across the country is the racial disparity that black boys are often overvalued in the juvenile justice system.
According to North Carolina Department of Public Safety statistics, for example, black children aged 6-9 years are disproportionately accused of misconduct, accounting for 47% of complaints, but only 24% of the population. .. White children of that age make up 53% of the population, but make up 39% of complaints.
Dawn Flagrove, Executive Director of Emancipate NC, an advocacy group for racial justice, considers black children under the age of 10 to be a threat, despite committing the same level of crime as white children. He said it was likely to happen.
North Carolina lawmakers have warned that a bill to raise the age of misconduct may not cross the finish line this year. Senator Danny Brit’s proposal is at a loss as fierce budget negotiations take precedence. Still controversial is whether parents should continue to face the risk of despising juvenile courts.
Brit, a Republican billmaker in Robson County, and some law enforcement members were insulted between fiscal year 2016 and fiscal year 2019, but only four parents were fined and imprisoned. We believe that the threat will continue to invest parents in the entire process. Prison according to DPS.
Blagrove supports Britt’s bill, but said it wasn’t enough to eradicate systematic racism.
“What we see is the easiest, most harmless, and least impactful for Republicans to make changes to systems that require extensive overhaul without actually disrupting the system. We’re finding a way, “says Flagrove.
Brit said the Democrats took no action on the issue, even though they dominated the General Assembly for years before the Republicans came to power in 2010.
Meanwhile, lawmakers and activists on either side of the aisle have found a common rationale: complaining that North Carolina was finally dead for something.
Follow Anderson on Twitter at https://twitter.com/BryanRAnderson.
Anderson is a corps member of the Associated Press / US Capitol News Initiative Report. Report for America is a non-profit national service program that places journalists in the local newsroom to report on unreported issues.
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