Originally posted on politifact.com.
A North Carolina legislator, Rep. Duane Hall, believes that the state would save millions of dollars by a small change in its criminal justice system. This change involves the ending of prosecuting anyone above the age of 16 as an adult in the criminal justice system. North Carolina (and also New York) are the only two states that consider anyone 16 years of age and older to be adults when they commit a crime. This label does not change, regardless of the severity of the crime or the circumstances surrounding it.
Currently, many are pushing the change this law in North Carolina. Various legislator and law enforcement officers want to try 16- and 17-year-olds as juveniles, unless they commit a really serious crime, which is the view the majority of other states take. This alteration is supported by the N. C. Justice Center and the John Locke Foundation, which are liberal and conservative organizations, respectively. Previously, legislators have attempted to change this law, but each attempt failed. But it seems as though things are different now.
Rep. Hall initially objected to the bill because of its cost, but says the recent studies show that other states with juvenile criminal systems actually save states upwards of tens of millions of dollars. Hall has previously co-sponsored similar bills, known as “Raise the Age” bills. He’s been speaking to various outlets in an effort to generate support for a new bill he intends to file later this year.
While it seems as though this change to the justice system actually saves states money, why was cost previously a concern? It’ll cost money to expand the juvenile-justice system; personalization will occur in order to offer the juveniles rehabilitation services instead of merely incarcerating them and these costs can add up, sometimes being more expensive than the original cost of the prison system.
Even though these initial costs may be hire, extensive research shows that removing teens from adult prisons lowers the risk of them convicting another crime and becoming career criminals. If proper rehabilitation is offered, these juveniles can become law-abiding citizens and won’t have other run-ins with the criminal justice system. This success rate puts less burden on the adult criminal justice system, because it leads to less criminals, and the community experiences less crime. If the numbers are correct, it seems as though the state could greatly benefit from this change, as well as North Carolina youth. To find out how the legislators foresee this money being saved, read the entirety of the article about this legislation.
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