NC bill would prosecute 16 and 17-year-olds as juveniles

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GREENVILLE, NC (WNCT) – Legislation in the North Carolina General Assembly could change the way people under the age of 18 are prosecuted.

North Carolina is one of just two states that tries 16 and 17-year-olds as adults. The legislation to change that is currently up for discussion in the state house and if it’s passed, most 16 and 17-year-olds would be tried as juveniles.

If the bill is passed, it wouldn’t punish most minors, but instead, help reform them and put them on the path to a better life. Kinston Teens founder and CEO Christopher Suggs says changing the teens is much better than putting them in jail.

“Things like mentor programs, counseling services, mental and behavioral support services are great things that reduce recidivism,” says Suggs. “It would actually help them have a greater historic life, so when they are adults they can get back to the job market and get back into school to get their adult education.”

The decisions to try teens would happen on a case by case basis.

Tuesday night, Kinston Teens and the Kinston-Lenoir branch of the NAACP will screen a short film which highlights the importance of raising the age.

Afterward, there will be a community panel discussion to explain the bill’s impact and its effects in Kinston and Lenoir County.

The meeting is at 6 p.m. in Kinston at Neuse Regional Library.

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