Dear New York State Legislator
Alarmingly, nearly 28,000 seventeen and eighteen year olds are arrested and face the possibility of being charged as adults in criminal court each year with the vast majority for minor offenses. Research shows that 16- and 17-year-olds are physiologically and physically still maturing; their judgment and decision-making processes aren’t yet fully formed. Putting a young person into an environment where he or she can be abused and corrupted by older inmates typically only teaches him or her to become a hardened criminal.Youth are also 36 times more likely to commit suicide in an adult facility than in a juvenile facility. We know this all too well from the preventable tragedy of Kalief Browder.
Stopping the practice of incarcerating adolescent youth with adults in New York state is a necessary first step to ensuring young people have access to a legal process that meets the rehabilitation needs rather than continuing to lock young people up in adult prisons. It is critical for New York state to ensure that that youth involved in the criminal justice system are provided with court processes, services and placement options that are developmentally appropriate.
Key consideration include;
- The legal process must respond to all children as children and services and placement options must meet the rehabilitative needs of all young people.
- A comprehensive approach to raising the age of criminal responsibility in New York State is in the best interest of New York’s children and youth, communities and community safety.
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 These realities are at odds with the goal of rehabilitating youth and protecting public safety.
We urge you to stand with your constituents and move to right a moral, fiscal and pragmatic wrong.
Raise the Age in NY NOW!