As a coalition of national and local advocates, youth, parents, law enforcement and legal representative groups, faith leaders, service providers and unions, we write to you out of great concern for New York’s justice system. We were deeply disappointed that raise the age legislation was not addressed as part of the final FY 2016-17 state budget and we urge you to come to a resolution by the end of the this session. The safety of our communities and the well-being of our children depend on it.
New York is still one of only two states where 16 and 17-year olds are automatically prosecuted as adults. As you know, this system does not meet New York’s public safety needs; instead, it traps young people in a perpetual cycle of poverty and crime that produces poor outcomes and hurts our communities.
The lack of age-appropriate interventions for 16- and 17-year olds in the adult system, as well as the increased exposure to violence and abuse, makes it difficult and near impossible for adolescents to reform and become successful, productive, and contributing members of their communities.
In 2013, nearly 34,000 16- and 17-year olds were arrested and faced prosecution in the adult system – the vast majority for non-violent crimes. Studies show that youth who are prosecuted and incarcerated in the adult system go on to re-offend at rates much higher than their peers who receive age-appropriate consequences in the juvenile system.
Higher recidivism rates create higher costs for the justice system and our communities as a whole. When a young person re-offends, taxpayers spend more on law enforcement and incarceration and miss the economic contribution of someone who is engaged in law-abiding work.
Raising the age is what is best for public safety and our communities. It is about being both smart on crime and tough on crime. It is an approach that numerous law enforcement officials and experts from both sides of the aisle have endorsed. By creating a path to more positive outcomes for more children, raising the age would lead to crime reductions and help foster safer, more livable streets throughout the state.
With the passage of the 2016-17 budget, you dedicated $110 million in funding toward raising the age and developing age-appropriate justice solutions for 16 and 17-year-olds. We thank you for this commitment and we urge you to pass legislation implementing the necessary reforms this year.
Raise the Age New York Campaign
Allegany Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, Inc.
Belvedere Health Services, LLC
Campaign for Fair Sentencing for Youth
Campaign for Youth Justice
Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice
Center for Children’s Law and Policy
Center for Community Alternatives, Syracuse, NY
The Children’s Agenda, Rochester, NY
Children’s Defense Fund-NY
The Children’s Village
Citizens’ Committee for Children
The Correctional Association of New York
Council of Families and Child Caring Agencies
Council for Prevention
Families Together New York State
Forum for Youth Investment
The Fund for Modern Courts
Good Shepherd Services
Haywood Burns Institute
Herstory Writers Workshop, Inc.
Hillside Family of Agencies
Junior League of Brooklyn
Justice 4 Families
Justice Policy Institute
Juvenile Law Center
League of Women Voters for NYS
Leake and Watts Services, Inc.
Long Island Progressive Coalition
The Legal Aid Society
National Association of Counties
National Association of Social Workers-NYS
National Association of Social Workers- NYC
National Center for Crime and Delinquency
The National Crittenton Foundation
National Juvenile Justice Network
National Partnership for Juvenile Services
New York Association of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Providers, Inc.
New York State Parent Teacher Association
Partners for Prevention in Allegany County
R Street Strategies
Rights for Girls
Robert Whitney, MD
Samaritan Daytop Village
Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy
The Sentencing Project
Suspension Representation Project at NYU Law School
Westchester Children’s Association
The Working Families Organization