How Juveniles Are Treated In The Justice System: Due Process And Raising The Age

May 15, 2017

Monday, May 15 2017

We discuss two important topics in the area of juvenile justice: raising the age, and due process. North Carolina is the only state where criminal justice still considers 16 and 17-year-olds adults.  As the legislature ponders a change in that law, we look back at a landmark Supreme Court Case giving juveniles due process rights on its 50th anniversary.

Credit Scott*/Flickr

Fifty years after a landmark Supreme Court ruling gave juveniles in the court system the same due process privileges as adults, there are still questions about how to treat juveniles in the courts.

Our state is the only one in the country that still considers 16 and 17 year olds as adults. However, North Carolina lawmakers are currently considering legislation that would raise the age of juveniles in the court system to 18.

Advocates for raising the age say that 97 percent of juvenile cases are nonviolent, but when they are tried as adults, the convictions mean the child is “branded for life,” setting kids on a negative trajectory, taking away opportunities for student loans, jobs, enrollment in the military and more.

As North Carolina considers changing the age, Mike Collins and his guests look back at In re Gault, a landmark Supreme Court case that changed the way juveniles were treated in terms of due process in the courts, giving them the same rights as adults. 

Guests:

Mujtaba Mohammed, assistant public defender for Mecklenburg County

Bob Simmons, executive director of the Council for Children’s Rights

Judge Elizabeth Thornton Trosch, District Court judge, Charlotte