“Smart on Crime” Advocates Applaud Governor’s Appointment of Raise the Age Commission Members

Cuomo-appointed commission will develop legislation by end of year to raise minimum age of criminal responsibility

FROM RAISE THE AGE

ALBANY – Supporters of ‘Raise the Age NY,’ the statewide campaign pushing New York state to be “smart on crime” by raising the state’s minimum age of criminal responsibility, applauded Governor Cuomo’s announcement of the commission tasked with developing legislation, by the end of 2014, to accomplish this and ensure New York’s place as national leader in youth justice.

“We applaud Governor Cuomo for following through on this important issue and elevating the national dialogue about juvenile justice,” said Jennifer March, executive director of the Citizens’ Committee for Children. “We look forward to working with the commission to quickly develop comprehensive legislation that fulfills Governor Cuomo’s vow to ensure New York’s place as a national leader in youth justice, improving public safety and ensuring better outcomes for youth who get in trouble with the law.”

The campaign, which launched last July, has been highlighting the damage done to public safety and young people across the state by treating children as adults in the legal system.

New York is the only state other than North Carolina where all children 16 and older are automatically treated as adults in the criminal justice system, often ending up in adult jails and prisons. Studies suggest raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility would lead to reduced recidivism among youth and in turn enhance public safety by providing age-appropriate interventions for young people.

Currently, all of the estimated 50,000 16- and 17-year-olds arrested in New York state each year, whether for a felony or misdemeanor, are presumptively treated as adults and their cases adjudicated in adult criminal courts. Approximately three out of every four arrests of the juveniles – 75.3 percent – are for misdemeanors.

“Scientific studies have proven that 16 and 17-year-olds are highly receptive to counseling and guidance and can reform their behavior, so why are we wasting taxpayer dollars on prosecuting young people as adults when it only leads to higher recidivism?” said George Gresham, President of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, the largest healthcare union in New York and the nation. “Keeping children within the juvenile justice system, and focusing on job training and counseling, is not only the smart and fiscally responsible approach, but it is also a moral imperative for our state.”

For more information about the Raise the Age campaign, visit www.raisetheageny.com.