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Harsh treatment of 16-year-old juveniles in North Carolina

Most states in the nation keep a tight lid on the criminal records of juvenile offenders. Even to use the words "juvenile offenders" seems a bit harsh; what Erin Zureick characterizes as an offense that "could follow the teen for the rest of his or her life" - Zureick uses the example of a schoolyard fight - is only something that could happen to a 16-year-old or a 17-year-old in two states, North Carolina and New York.

Underage drinking is one such offense, another example of a misdemeanor that could haunt the teen for a long time to come, in terms of job opportunities and admittance to college.

Zureick reports that advocates want to influence state legislators to raise the age to 18 - the age at which someone accused of a crime is considered to be an adult in the justice system in most states - but it doesn't appear to be an easy job.

"I think it's about educating the legislators. Our work is cut out for us," says one state legislator, Sen. Ellie Kinnaird, as Zureick reports.

Raising the age would apparently come at a cost to state budgets, which undoubtedly makes raising the age less likely in the general political climate, wherein many states are struggling to balance their budgets.

Source: Star News Online, "N.C., N.Y. only states where 16-year-olds considered adults by criminal justice system," by Erin Zureick, 07/02/11

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