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Effort on NC juvenile court age still lacks unity

RALEIGH, NC (AP) — The North Carolina General Assembly dramatic changes last year to the state criminal justice system that were billed as a way to eliminate the need for additional prison beds and to reduce repeat offenders.

Now proponents of a change to divert more young suspects away from the adult court and prison system into the juvenile system hope for a similar bipartisan outcome this year.

North Carolina is one of only two states where 16- and 17-year-olds are automatically prosecuted in adult court. Bill supporters want the state’s age of juvenile jurisdiction raised. They say too many young people wind up in adult court with criminal records they can’t shake.

Some lawmakers such as Senate leader Phil Berger aren’t sold yet that a change is needed.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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