No More Minors in Jails

By Jacquelyn Greene 

This article was originally published on the UNC School of Government blog On the Civil Side and has been republished with permission.

No More Minors in Jails

Many people assumed that the implementation of raise the age on December 1, 2019 meant the end of confinement of anyone under 18 in a jail. That was not the case. Even under our new legal framework for juvenile jurisdiction, some youth under 18 still have cases that are handled in criminal court from the very beginning. There is currently no legal mechanism to house these youth in a juvenile detention facility instead of a jail. This changes on August 1, 2020, when Part II of Session law 2020-83 takes effect.

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Education Decisions in the Wake of COVID-19

By Jen Story

Fellow advocates,

I write to provide a few updates and red flags regarding plans for the upcoming school year in light of ongoing coronavirus spikes.

These updates are directly relevant to any education clients you currently have in your offices, and also to any other clients who may have school-aged children in the home.


  1. Gov. Cooper has announced that the default plan for schools will be “Plan B,” which requires a hybrid in-person/remote plan to be created locally. This plan will enable districts and charter schools to operate at no more than 50% capacity whenever in-person instruction occurs.

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On A Mission To Address Racial Injustice

As members of the Juvenile Justice and Children’s Rights Section, we stand in solidarity with our friends and colleagues in the Black community and condemn the tragic and senseless killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks, and many others. We know that racism is deeply rooted in American society and recognize the devastating impact it has on people of color, from daily indignities and marginalization to the tragic loss of these four lives and so many more. We cannot remain silent in the face of these injustices. As lawyers and advocates, it is our ethical duty to condemn white supremacy and actively work to eliminate racial bias in the justice system.

A key mission of the Juvenile Justice and Children’s Rights Section is to promote racial justice through education, awareness, and advocacy within the North Carolina Bar Association, and most importantly, through our work as child and youth advocates. Several years ago, we established a Racial Justice Committee to directly address the harmful impact of structural racism on children of color across systems, including education, child welfare, and juvenile justice. These systems disproportionately fail children of color, as evidenced by the achievement gap, the overrepresentation of minority children in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems, and the school-to-prison pipeline.

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Juvenile Justice Pandemic Lessons

This article was originally published on the UNC School of Government blog On the Civil Side and has been republished with permission.

The Juvenile Jurisdiction Advisory Committee (JJAC) met on May 15. The meeting began with a presentation from William Lassiter, Deputy Secretary for Juvenile Justice. While the goal of the presentation was to provide data on trends since implementation of raise the age and the resulting resource needs, the presentation included information and data about juvenile justice system trends during this unprecedented pandemic. The data left me wondering—can changes in juvenile justice system utilization during the pandemic teach us lessons for the functioning of the system outside of a pandemic?

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Disproportionate Minority Contact in North Carolina

By Eric J. Zogry 

In June 2019, Disproportionate Minority Contact in North Carolina: An Assessment Study by Stan Orchowsky, Ph.D., Cambiare Consulting and Michael J. Leiber, Ph.D. and Chae M. Jaynes, Ph.D., University of South Florida, was released through a grant from the North Carolina Governor’s Crime Commission. This was the first statewide study on disproportionate minority contact (DMC) in the juvenile justice system since 2013.

The goal of the assessment study was to determine whether, where and why DMC exists in North Carolina’s juvenile justice system. The analysis is based on using the Relative Rate Index, or “RRI.” The RRI is the ratio of the proportion of minority youth at a given stage to the proportion of white youth at that same stage. If both groups are being processed at the same rate, then the RRI would be equal to 1. RRIs above 1 indicate disproportionate minority contact at that stage of the system.

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Coronavirus Updates and Resources for Parents and Students

By Jen Story

Update: Since this compilation of updates and resources was published last week, new guidance has been released by the US Department of Education and Governor Cooper has issued a second executive order extending school closures. Legal Aid staff are in communication with state officials about these changes and will have updated information and more practical tips posted to the website below by the end of this week or early next week.  Please continue to check back!

Legal Aid of North Carolina has put together a resource with summaries of Coronavirus updates related to students’ access to school. Specifically, we included updates and tips related to:

  1. school closures;
  2. educational access for students while schools are closed;
  3. educational access for special education students while schools are closed;
  4. student nutrition services while schools are closed;
  5. student privacy rights related to the COVID-19 outbreak;
  6. general federal and state resources; and
  7. miscellaneous resources for students and families.

Much of this is and will be in flux in the coming weeks, and so we plan to monitor things closely and will update the guide on an ongoing basis as we receive updated information. To that end, people should continue to check back for updated information.

Fight Hunger, Help Others in the COVID-19 Pandemic – Participate in the Legal Feeding Frenzy and Support Your Local Food Bank!

Michele Livingstone

Will Quick

By Michele Livingstone and Will Quick

We are in unprecedented times with COVID-19 (Coronavirus).  It is now more important than ever that we help our neighbors and those who are not as fortunate. I am confident that each of you is doing your part.

Even in the best of times, however, over 1.5 Million North Carolinians struggle with hunger—of those, nearly half a million are children. With public schools and many religious and nonprofit organizations that traditionally serve the food insecure in our communities being closed for indefinite periods, and government leaders calling for social distancing to help limit the spread of Coronavirus, that need is never more pressing than now.

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Raise the Age Tips and Resources for Law Enforcement

Jacquelyn Greene, Assistant Professor of Public Law and Government for the UNC School of Government, recently posted the following item regarding the new Raise the Age law on the On the Civil Side blog of the UNC School of Government:

Advocacy in your Local Community

By Jared Simmons

According to the Children’s Home Society of North Carolina, over 10,000 children in North Carolina are in the foster care system as of 2018.  Since 1983, the North Carolina juvenile system has supported the role of the Guardian ad Litem in each case to be a strong voice for children in the courtroom. In 2015, I observed a minor child describe the sexual abuse and exploitation they endured. The child testified their mother had sold access to them for opioids and other substances while in the mother’s custody. I was shocked and appalled, and I quickly learned there was a growing need in our communities for child advocacy.

In 2016, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to be trained as a Guardian ad Litem, and was assigned my first case; four children in my local community needed an advocate in the courtroom to pursue permanency and achieve stability. As the Guardian ad Litem for the children, I was able to get my first look into the development of an abuse/neglect/dependency case in North Carolina. After a few years of visits, hearings, and advocacy, all four of those children have achieved permanency.

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Riding the Waves of Change: 2019 Legislative Review

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By Christina Cress
Four NCBA Sections are combining their respective experience and subject matter expertise to bring you an informative CLE highlighting this session’s legislative updates.

The Administrative Law Section; Environment, Energy & Natural Resources Law Section; Government & Public Sector Section; and Juvenile Justice & Children’s Rights Section are teaming up to bring you a 6.0‑credit hour CLE beginning at 8:15 a.m. on Friday, November 8, titled “Riding the Waves of Change: 2019 Legislative Review.”  Although it will be available by webcast and On Demand, we encourage you to attend live so that you can enjoy fellowship and networking during breakfast and lunch, both of which are include in your CLE registration.

The content-packed agenda features speakers who are both seasoned veterans on Jones Street and those who are relatively new to lobbying.  The sessions are both broad enough to include tips for all lawyers and practice areas, but sufficiently tailored to provide a specific substantive update on the most salient legislative actions taken this session as well as a general refresher of legislative procedure 101!  Come learn what the North Carolina General Assembly has (or has not) changed and the practical effects of those changes.  Brush up on your legislative procedure knowledge and skills.  Hear about the most debated and followed bills of the current legislative session.

Specific sessions include a Hot Topics Potpourri Panel moderated by Bain Jones, featuring panelists Jack Nichols, Reginald O’Rourke, and Robin L. Tatum.  You also will hear from Karen Brinson Bell, Bob Joyce, Katelyn Love, and Bruce Thompson, II, during our Elections and Redistricting Updates.  Meisha Evans and Nick Fountain will bring you Legislative Process 101.  Dixon Snukals will take you on a deep dive into Environmental and Energy updates.  And LaToya Powell will end the day with an update on Juvenile Justice Reform and Child Welfare Law.

There truly is something for everyone in this CLE – even if not in your specific practice area, then at least in your role as a citizen of the Old North State!  We hope you will join us!