It's Time to Raise the Age in New York

raise the age
Citizens' Committee for Children, Raise the Age NY
June 19, 2014

Take two minutes to make your voice heard! 

New York is one of only two states in the country where youth age 16 and older are prosecuted as adults, even for minor crimes. In December 2014, a state commission will issue recommendations to improve juvenile justice in New York. You can help encourage policymakers to recognize what research and science have confirmed – adolescents are children, and prosecuting and placing them in the adult criminal justice system doesn’t work for them and doesn’t work for public safety.

New York’s antiquated law is still in place despite the research that has demonstrated that this practice actually jeopardizes public safety by increasing recidivism rates. Research has also proven that the adolescent’s brain is not fully developed until they are in their 20s. This is why youth are sometimes more impulsive—and also why youth are more receptive to rehabilitative services.

Governor Cuomo has already spearheaded numerous reforms to our state’s juvenile justice system.  The time is right for New York to take the next step and Raise the Age of criminal responsibility. Send a letter to Governor Cuomo urging him to Raise the Age!

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Click here to send this letter to Governor Cuomo:

I am writing to you because I want New York's Law to be changed to RAISE THE AGE of criminal responsibility! I want New York's laws to be in line with the rest of the country (besides North Carolina).

New York's children, youth and communities have benefited from the juvenile justice reforms that you and your administration have implemented since coming into office. I am urging you to take the next step and Raise the Age! I believe there needs to be a comprehensive approach to raising the age of criminal responsibility in New York State. This will be in the best interest of New York's children and youth, communities and community safety, as well as the State's economy.

Research has proven that adolescents' brains are not fully developed and in fact continue developing until they are in their 20s. This is why youth are sometimes more impulsive and less able to think about future consequences. With appropriate interventions, youth are able to learn to make more responsible choices.

Approximately 50,000 16 and 17 year-olds are arrested in New York each year and face the possibility of being prosecuted in adult courts, placed in adult jails and prisons, and having the outcomes on their permanent records. In addition, over 600 children ages 13-15 are prosecuted in adult criminal courts because they have been charged with committing certain crimes. And in New York, children as young as age 7 can be prosecuted in the youth justice system.

Treating children as adults in the criminal justice system is short-sighted and ineffective. Youth incarcerated in adult facilities are more likely to suffer physical and emotional abuse and to recidivate - realities that are at odds with the goal of rehabilitating youth and protecting public safety.

Rather than continuing to lock young people up in adult facilities, it is critical for New York to ensure that that youth involved in the criminal justice system are provided with court processes, services and placement options that are developmentally appropriate.

New York's children and youth cannot wait - please Raise the Age today!


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