Governor Roy Cooper has thrown his support to a bill that would raise the age of juvenile offenders to 17 years.
Today, offenders 16 and older are charged and tried in North Carolina as adults. Only New York charges offenders as young as 16, as adults.
House Bill 280, which has bi-partisan sponsorship, would raise the age for minor criminal offenses. Those 16 and younger, could still be tried as adults for serious crimes.
Republican and Democrat lawmakers came out in a Wednesday news conference to support the bill.
Later in the day, Governor Cooper announced his support of the bill.
"Law enforcement, the courts and experts on juveniles agree that raising the age makes sense for North Carolina, and that's why my budget includes initial investments to make this happen. Raising the age can actually save North Carolina money in the long run if juvenile justice needs are adequately funded, and it makes communities safer by giving young people an opportunity to turn away from a life of crime. I believe we can find common ground across political lines to raise the age and make progress for North Carolina."
The Carolina Journal reports that 8,000 16- and 17-year-olds were charged as adults.
If passed, the bill would take effect Dec. 1, 2019.