Senate Bill 207, which makes various changes to the 2017 Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act, was signed into law by Governor Cooper on August 30th, 2021, and will go into effect on December 1st, 2021.
The 2017 Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act made necessary changes to juvenile delinquency and juvenile justice statutes such as: raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction to include 16-and 17-year-olds (except in the case of A-G felonies), providing victims the opportunity to request a review of a decision not to file a juvenile petition, increased the information available on juveniles to law enforcement and for court proceedings, authorized school-justice partnerships statewide to reduce school-based referrals to the juvenile court system, requiring regular juvenile justice training for law enforcement officers, and established the Juvenile Jurisdiction Advisory Committee.
Senate Bill 207 includes several significant changes to the existing Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act. Perhaps the most significant change is an increase in the minimum age for delinquency and undisciplined cases. Previously the minimum age for juvenile delinquency in North Carolina was 6 years old, but this bill increases the minimum age to 10 years old for lesser accusations and 8 years old for the most serious felonies. This change allows for juvenile court counselors to conduct child consultations and investigate child complaints for children ages 6 to 9 referred to the juvenile justice systems. It also gives the court exclusive jurisdiction over parents, guardians, and custodians who fail to comply with the recommendations of a child consultation.
Additional changes include new prosecutorial discretion to decline to transfer cases in which the most serious charge is a Class D-Class G felony, the ability to extend the length of jurisdiction when a juvenile is committed to a Youth Development Center for a Class A-Class E felony committed at age 16 or 17, and requiring a hearing to determine the need for continued secure custody be held no more than 10 calendar days following the issuance of a secure custody order. Senate Bill 207 also removes the existing provisions related to juveniles suspected of having a mental illness or developmental disability and instead requires the Juvenile Justice Section of the Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice of the Department of Public Safety (JJSDAC) to make a referral for a comprehensive clinical assessment or other equivalent mental health assessment. Lastly, Senate Bill 207 requires JJSDAC to report annually on all complaints filed against juveniles (less than 10 but at least 6) including the number of complaints, types of offenses, and the number of juveniles with multiple complaints or who receive juvenile consultation services for more than one complaint.
Researched by Crystal Poole, NC-CURE Intern