raise the Age

William Lassiter

William Lassiter, head of the NC Division of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention

BY: - June 19, 2023

North Carolina enacted a big and transformative change to the state’s juvenile justice system a few years back when it became the last state in the union to raise the age from 16 to 18 at which a young person accused of a crime is automatically treated as an adult. The change was a good […]


A plea to state lawmakers: Help this man do his job

BY: - June 13, 2023

For average North Carolinians trying keep up with the policy debates in the General Assembly, few matters can be more opaque and harder to follow than the state budget. Every year, lawmakers pass a bill to fund state government that runs to several hundred pages and that’s packed with scores of important provisions: tax policy […]

Committee pitches juvenile justice funding as legislative session begins

BY: - January 12, 2023

The proposals were included within the final report written by the Juvenile Jurisdiction Advisory Committee. A committee of juvenile justice experts has recommended legislators approve a step pay plan for employees who work at juvenile detention centers. The proposal comes a month after Deputy Secretary of Juvenile Justice Billy Lassiter told committee members North Carolina’s juvenile detention centers were understaffed and over-capacity...


The week’s top stories on NC Policy Watch

BY: - December 25, 2022

1. A holiday wish for North Carolina pols and their pals (Commentary) Well, the season of giving is upon us again, and while it’s clear that North Carolina ethics statutes prevent public servants and other “covered persons” from receiving any gifts that might influence their official actions, the law includes a number of – nudge-nudge, […]

Monday numbers: A look at juvenile justice in North Carolina, three years into Raise the Age

BY: - December 19, 2022

Nearly 13,500 teenagers had their crimes adjudicated in the juvenile justice system; under the old model these youths would have pled their cases in adult courts.  In 2019 North Carolina followed the rest of the country’s lead  and raised the age of juvenile jurisdiction for nonviolent crimes to age 18, meaning many 16- and 17-year old children would be spared punishment in the adult justice system.

Staffing shortages at NC juvenile detention centers: So bad that, ‘If you show up to work today, you get a bonus.’

BY: - December 14, 2022

Detention centers are badly overcrowded and under-resourced, according to a committee presentation last week. There are so many vacant positions in North Carolina’s juvenile detention centers that officials are using the money that would pay the salaries of new employees as an incentive to get existing staffers to report to their shifts.

New advisory board to review sentences of individuals tried in adult criminal court as teens

BY: - April 9, 2021

In keeping with “raise the age” law, Governor establishes new panel that can make recommendations for clemency Gov. Roy Cooper signed an executive order Thursday forming the state’s Juvenile Sentence Review Board. The advisory board will review the sentences of people who were tried in adult criminal court in their teens over a decade ago, and then […]

‘Raise the Age’: Where things stand after one year

BY: - February 8, 2021

Despite challenges posed by the pandemic, NC's new juvenile justice law is making a difference A state juvenile justice committee plans to ask the General Assembly for $6.7 million to accommodate more teens in the Raise the Age program.

PW profile: Deputy Juvenile Justice Secretary draws from painful personal past to help kids in the system succeed

BY: - February 14, 2020

When Billy Lassiter was 12 years old, he sat in the front row of one of his seventh grade classes surrounded by about 30 students who had their sights set on picking apart their substitute teacher’s strange dialect.

A “Raise the Age” breakdown by districts across the state

BY: - January 17, 2020

North Carolina officially implemented Raise the Age legislation Dec. 1, 2019 — the change in law means that most 16- and 17-year-olds no longer have to go through the adult criminal justice system and anyone under the age of 18 no longer goes to adult jail. The Department of Public Safety’s Juvenile Justice division has […]

ICYMI: NC joins the rest of the nation in trying teens as juveniles (podcast)

BY: - December 2, 2019

It was years in the making, but staring this month 16 and 17-year-olds will not automatically be charged as adults for low-level felonies and misdemeanors in North Carolina. A tremendous amount of work has gone on behind the scenes since the Raise the Age legislation was passed in 2017. And last week, Billy Lassiter, Deputy […]