In response to the Senate passing of Raise the Age legislation in New York, Jennifer March, Executive Director of Citizens’ Committee for Children-New York; Naomi Post, Executive Director of the Children’s Defense Fund-New York and Paige Pierce, CEO of Families Together in New York State released the following statement on behalf of the Raise the Age NY campaign:
Thanks to this “Raise the Age” legislation, tens of thousands of New York’s youth who make a mistake will be treated in an age-appropriate manner, offering them an opportunity to turn their lives around. While no legislation is perfect, we applaud Governor Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Heastie and members of the Assembly, the Senate Majority, Minority and Independent Democratic Caucus, and the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Caucus for passing this smart-on-crime legislation. We will keep working with our elected officials to make sure that New York does right by the rest of our youth and heeds the scientific research that shows the juvenile system works best for teenagers and our communities. This victory is due in large part to the formerly incarcerated youth and their families, faith leaders, members of the legal community, direct service providers, and advocates who made their voices heard for many years.
For more information about the Raise the Age campaign, visit www.raisetheageny.com and follow the campaign on social media using the hashtag #RaisetheAgeNY
About the Raise the Age NY campaign:
Raise the Age NY is a public awareness campaign that includes national and local advocates, youth, parents, law enforcement and legal representative groups, faith leaders, and unions that have come together to increase public awareness of the need to implement a comprehensive approach to raise the age of criminal responsibility in New York State so that the legal process responds to all children as children and provides services and placement options that better meet the rehabilitative needs of all children and youth.
New York is one of only two states in the country (the other is North Carolina) that have failed 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.
Children who are prosecuted as adults are more likely to continue committing crimes in the future. Children who are treated as children are more likely to stay out of jail, and out of the justice system:
- Studies have found that young people prosecuted in the adult criminal justice system are 34% more likely to be re-arrested for violent or other crime than youth retained in the youth justice system.
- A study comparing youth prosecuted in New York’s adult courts to young people prosecuted for the same felonies in New Jersey’s juvenile courts found that the New York youth were more likely to recidivate. Not only were New York youth 100% more likely to rearrested for a violent crime, they also had higher re-incarceration rates and shorter time periods to re-arrest than their New Jersey peers.
- In 2013, the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission found that when the state began prosecuting 17-year-olds as juveniles, juvenile crime continued to decline. Moreover, between 2010 when the law changed, until 2013, the state experienced a 14% decrease in violent crime. Contrary to what opponents had predicted, including 17-year-olds did not overload the juvenile justice system, nor did it increase juvenile offenses.
Research into brain development underscores that adolescents are in fact children and that the human brain is not fully formed until the age of 25:
- As the cognitive skills of adolescents are developing, adolescents’ behavior is often impulsive and they lack the ability to focus on the consequences of their behavior.
- Because the adolescent brain is still developing, the character, personality traits and behavior of adolescents are highly receptive to change; adolescents respond well to interventions, learn to make responsible choices, and are likely to grow out of negative or delinquent behavior.
- Raise the Age NY is a campaign that supports raising the age of criminal responsibility for all children in New York to improve outcomes for children and public safety.
For more information about the Raise the Age campaign, visit www.raisetheageny.com.