By Dave Kaplan, Staff Editor
Last month, GBA Strategies published the results of a national poll (pdf) regarding juvenile justice and delinquency. The results are decisive. Nearly 70% percent of those surveyed reject the policy of placing youth in adult jails and prisons and 89% favor rehabilitation and reform efforts for juvenile offenders as opposed to incarceration and punishment. The poll also reveals that the public favors individualized determinations by juvenile court judges rather than adult prosecution in the adult system. North Carolina, by the way, is only one of two states that automatically try and sentence 16 year olds as adults. As Liz Ryan, CEO and President of the Campaign for Youth Justice, stated, “[t]his public opinion research demonstrates American’s strong support for rehabilitation and treatment for court-involved youth, over incarceration and automatic prosecution in adult criminal court.” Perhaps North Carolina needs to rethink their position on trying 16 and 17 year olds as adults, as the majority of other states don’t engage in the practice and now, in light of this recent poll, the overwhelming majority of Americans support rehabilitation, not incarceration.