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NC Bill Would Allow More Teens To Be Tried As Adults And Roll Back Privacy Protections

Source: WRAL

A new bill signed into law last week will make major changes to state laws related to juvenile justice. House Bill 186 would roll back privacy protections for juveniles accused of serious crimes; allowing law enforcement to release names, photos, alleged offenses and statements.

According to The News & Observer, House Bill 186, also known as “Lyric and Devin’s Law”, is named after Lyric Woods and Devin Clark, two teenagers who were allegedly shot and killed by another teen in Orange County last September. 

“It’s a response to some of the headline cases we’ve seen,” Rep. Marcia Morey, D-Durham, a retired judge and advocate, told WRAL.

The new law also requires 13- to 15-year-olds accused of first-degree murder to be tried in as an adult, if they’re indicted by a grand jury, or if a judge finds probable cause that they committed the crime.

Prior to the passage of House Bill 186, information regarding juveniles who are suspected of a crime couldn’t be released to the public under any circumstances. 

Under the new law, photos, names and statements must then be removed from law enforcement social media and websites once the juvenile is taken into custody, according to The News & Observer. However, the removal of photos only applies to law enforcement and government agencies – leaving images of juvenile suspects to easily spread across social media or news media outlets.

While the bill passed in a bipartisan effort, advocates have raised concerns over the  law potentially fast tracking teens to adult court. 

“There is to some degree a need for certain crimes committed by youth to be dealt with in a particular way, possibly as adults,” Michael Hall, who runs the Asheville nonprofit Generation 2 Generation, told WLOS. “However, what’s the greater need, arrest them or treat whatever has led them to commit such crimes.” 
“We arrest them, convict them, but don’t treat. With this demographic of youth, what gets focused on is what did they do, not what happened that led them to what they did,” Hall added.

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