Casting off the Curse of God: Litigation Versus Legislation and the Educational Rights of Youth in North Carolina’s Adult Criminal Justice System

BY Dylan A. Farmer

For nearly a century, advocates of raising North Carolina’s legal age of adulthood have tried in vain to enact their agenda through legislative campaigns. The reform efforts have recently increased, but the results have been the same: all seven of the proposed raise-the-age bills introduced in the past three legislative sessions have failed prior to even reaching the senate and house floors for a vote. This comment implores the age reformers to adopt a litigation approach in addition to their legislative strategy in order to put pressure on North Carolina’s elected leaders to act.  Specifically, advocates should focus on litigating their way to substantive changes in the educational offerings provided to youths under 18 who are currently housed in adult prison facilities, such that they will receive benefits akin to those they would receive if tried as juveniles.  Hopefully, successful litigation tactics will help the General Assembly to realize that they can either take the lead on juvenile justice reform, or they can leave the heavy lifting to the courts, who may or may not have the same policy priorities.

DOWNLOAD PDF | 91 N.C. L. Rev.Addendum 36 (2012)