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NC Governor vetoes bill that would send more juvenile offenders to the adult system

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NC Governor vetoes bill that would send more juvenile offenders to the adult system

Jun 14, 2024 | 9:20 pm ET
By Clayton Henkel
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NC Governor vetoes bill that would send more juvenile offenders to the adult system
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Gov. Roy Cooper (Photo: Office of the Governor)

Governor Roy Cooper issued a veto late Friday of a bill that would modify the definition of “delinquent juvenile” and send more 16- and 17-year-olds to the adult court system.

“Most violent crimes, even when committed by teenagers, should be handled in adult court. However, there are cases where sentences would be more effective and appropriate to the severity of the crime for teenagers if they were handled in juvenile court, making communities safer,” said Cooper in statement released by his office.

Cooper said he worried the legislation is a step toward eroding the bipartisan “Raise the Age” law passed just four years ago.

“While a number of Senators worked to make this legislation better than the original bill, I remain concerned that this new law would keep some children from getting treatment they need,” Cooper explained.

Senator Mujtaba Mohammed, D-Mecklenburg, said during a committee hearing last month kids are actually punished in juvenile court.

“The great thing about juvenile courts is that you get one judge, you get that one kid, you get the same prosecutor, you get the same juvenile defender, and the most important piece, it’s the only jurisdiction where you get to hold parents accountable,” said Mohammed.

More than 400 teens were transferred to adult court from juvenile court last year.

Gov. Cooper is now encouraging the legislature to invest significantly more in the juvenile justice system to ensure resources are available to appropriately deal with children who break the law.

Read more about House Bill 834 here.