For years, CORRAL and our community partners have been fighting a broken judicial system that has prevented us from helping to change the lives of numerous teenagers. However, as of December of this year, North Carolina will no longer be the last state in the U.S. to put 16- and 17-year-olds on trial as adults. Because of this, there will be an increase in the amount of children in the community that will be in need of a place to grow and receive life-changing care. While this change in our court system, known as “Raise the Age” is great and long overdue, it will cause resources for juvenile delinquents to be stretched thin.
Statistics show that teenagers are more likely to successfully transition to adulthood if they are served by the juvenile justice system. But how can these young people successfully transition if youth rehabilitation services are unable to grow with the rising population?
One of CORRAL’s partners, the Juvenile Crime Prevention Center (JCPC), seeks to reduce and prevent juvenile delinquency by working directly with community leaders and will be greatly impacted by Raise the Age and the impending budget changes. The JCPC is a main source of referrals for CORRAL participants and provides necessary funding for CORRAL programming. CORRAL also works with other JCPC programs, such as the JCPC Community Programming Collaborative.
In 2018, JCPC programs served 21,248 youth through various services and community partnerships, including CORRAL. The JCPC has also prepared for the increased population that will come with the Raise the Age changes by training their leaders to best support the older population and expanding available resources to meet the needs of the expanding population. On average, the JCPC spends $996.20 per child to support juvenile offenders in their communities. These community programs often provide interpersonal skill building, tutoring, career readiness, counseling and mentoring.
Once the Raise the Age legislation is passed, the number of juvenile delinquents will increase. This means that CORRAL will gain a greater population of young girls that need a place to be restored and changed. Because of this need, we are grateful to open our second farm in Southeast Raleigh this fall. The new farm will allow CORRAL to serve 20 more girls this next year, many of whom will be referred by the JCPC. CORRAL has seen 276 girls’ lives changed through our program, and we want to serve many more with the goal to have 200 girls in our program annually by 2028. Our second farm will help us do that!
While Raise the Age is providing 16- and 17-year-olds the opportunity to benefit from programs like JCPC and CORRAL, the JCPC is facing the possibility of a significantly lower budget from the legislature. The Senate has proposed a budget that will reduce JCPC funding by $2.2 million. If the Senate budget is adopted, the JCPC will only be able to serve 2,440 juveniles, which means only 25% of the projected Raise the Age population would benefit from JCPC programs. However, the House budget will fully support the expected expansion (9,759 juveniles) by providing $4.4 million for the upcoming fiscal year. If the House’s budget gets passed, imagine the impact that we can make on the young people in our community together.
It is crucial to let our state lawmakers know that they should support the House’s proposed funding levels for JCPC programs. We do not know how much longer the House and the Senate will negotiate, so now is the time to help us by contacting your local legislator. Sharing your perspective can make a valuable impact that could change a young person’s life, and can certainly help us bring more young women to CORRAL, so they can have a leg up in life.