August 21, 2013 | 1006 views
Leaders rally to 'Raise the Age'
Group calls on state legislators to support bringing New York into line with the rest of the country in treating all children as children in the criminal justice system
Nassau DA Rice, LI Advocates, clergy, civil rights groups and formerly incarcerated young writers joined diverse statewide campaign in calling for New York to "Raise the Age"
Group highlights what they say is the ineffectiveness of a law that is out of step with every state but North Carolina and impact on public safety and Long Island youth.
A diverse coalition of stakeholders from across Long Island were joined by Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice on the steps of the Nassau County Supreme Court on Tuesday, Aug. 20, to highlight the damage that treating children as adults in the legal system has on public safety and youth, and called for New York to “Raise the Age.” 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.
“Treating each and every teen offender as an adult criminal is an unconscionable disregard for basic brain science and what we know about adolescent development,” said Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice. “Automatically steering teens toward an adult justice system rather than redirecting them to law-abiding futures is a waste of our tax dollars and a drain on our law enforcement resources. The human, financial, and public safety costs of this archaic system are staggering, and I'm working with this diverse coalition to do something about it.”
“Treating young teenagers, whose prefrontal cortex has not fully developed, as adults in the criminal justice system is shortsighted – it is counterproductive to public safety and the well-being of children,” said Ed Roldan, a retired New York City police officer, current Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW), and Long Island Latino Teachers Association member. “There’s no reason for New York to lag behind nearly every other state in our country. If we want to improve public safety, we need to be smart on crime, consider proactive practices, and venues that allow our children the opportunity to grow surrounded by positive role models and when they make negative decisions, as some will do, we need to stop treating them as adults in the legal system.”
In highlighting the situation facing thousands of youth in Long Island every year, the group called on local state legislators to support bringing New York into line with the rest of the country in treating all children as children in the criminal justice system.
“Herstory supports the Raise the Age Campaign, urging our lawmakers to treat 16 and 17 year olds in the criminal justice system as youth not as adults,” stated Serena Liguori, Herstory Writers Workshop advocacy and social justice program director. “Herstory supports young people, giving them the opportunity to recognize and take responsibility for their mistakes and then giving them a stronger chance to become productive members of our community.”
Studies have found that young people transferred to the adult criminal justice system have approximately 34% more re-arrests for felony crimes than youth retained in the youth justice system. Around 80% of youth released from adult prisons reoffend, often going on to commit more serious crimes. Research shows that children react better to developmentally-appropriate interventions available in the youth justice system.