Almost 250 Faith Leaders from Across New York Release Letter Urging Cuomo, Flanagan and Heastie to Raise the Age this Session

June 6, 2016


Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo

Governor of the State of New York

NYS State Capitol Building

Albany, NY  12224


Honorable John Flanagan

Senate Majority Leader

NYS State Capitol Building

Albany, NY 12224


Honorable Carl Heastie

Assembly Speaker

NYS State Capitol Building

Albany, NY 12224


Dear Governor Cuomo, Majority Leader Flanagan and Speaker Heastie:


As faith leaders from many backgrounds, traditions and beliefs, we write to you united by our great concern for the future of children in our communities. Too many are being swept up into the adult criminal justice system and getting trapped in a cycle of poverty and crime. We all know children who have faced down difficult circumstances and rebuilt their lives. But the lack of age-appropriate interventions for 16- and 17-year olds in the adult system, as well as the heightened exposure they face to violence and abuse, is making it difficult and in many cases impossible for even the most intelligent and capable teens to become productive and successful members of our communities.


As a state, New York is failing these children. Today, we humbly ask you to raise the age at which children are automatically charged as adults.  Currently, New York is one of two states where youth as young as 16 automatically end up in adult courts, jails and prisons.


Passing the raise the age proposal contained in the 2016-2017 Executive Budget will enhance public safety and offer youth age-appropriate interventions (including, when necessary, incarceration).


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. We should be better than that.


Adult prisons do not focus on rehabilitation, and are not designed to meet the needs of children. National studies show that young people confined in adult facilities are much more likely to face traumatic physical and sexual violence than those in juvenile facilities.


This lack of age-appropriate intervention and increased exposure to violence also leads to higher rates of recidivism and, as a result, higher costs for the justice system as a whole. Our current law sets young people up to become re-offenders: research has shown that young people who go through the adult system are much more likely to re-offend than those in the juvenile system.


From a public safety perspective, raising the age is about being both smart on crime and tough on crime – an approach that numerous law enforcement officials from around the state 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.


Thank you for your consideration of this matter. We are ready to stand by you and move forward with this important policy change. It goes without saying that all New Yorkers will be better off under this approach.





Rev. Anthony A. Abbazio, Jr.

Church of the Nazarene


Bishop Gladstone Adams

The Episcopal Diocese of Central New York


Minister Gregory Adegbola

New York Covenant Church, New Rochelle


Reverend Margaret Allen

Unitarian Universalist of Stonybrook


Bishop Jane Allen Middleton

New York Annual Conference UMC


Onleilove Alston, Executive Director

PICO Faith in NY


Rev. Dr. Kim W. Anderson

Metropolitan A .M.E. Church


Bishop Emmanuel Asse

National Action Network & Gateway Christian Center


Deacon Walter Ayers

Catholic Charities Commission on Peace and Justice, Albany Diocese


Rev. Althea Bailey

Brown Memorial Baptist Church, Manhattan


J. Bruce Baker, Pastor

All Souls Parish/Presbyterian Church, Port Chester

Pastor Sheila M. Bedford

Westbury United Methodist Church


Rev. Henry A. Belin III

First AME Bethel Church


Reverend Charles Bell

Messiah Lutheran Church


Bob Berson

Ethical Culture Society of Northern, Westchester


Rev. Dr. Len and Judy Bjorkman

First Presbyterian Union, Owego


Rabbi Jonathan Blake

Westchester Reform Temple, Scarsdale


Rev. Leon Blunt Jr.

Christian Church of Disciples of Christ


Reverend Lynn Carman Bodden

United Church of Christ (UCC)


Rabbi Jeff Brown

Scarsdale Synagogue


James Brumm, Pastor and Teacher

Blooming Grove Reformed Church, Rensselaer, NY


Rabbi Aaron Brusso

Bet Torah, Mount Kisco


Pastor Alex Bryant

E.P.H.O.D Ministries


Co-Pastor Dr. Teresa Bryant

E.P.H.O.D Ministries


Ms. Kimberly Burgess

The Riverside Church


Rev. Dr. Amy Butler

The Riverside Church


Reverend George A. Bynoe

Int’l Dream Team Christian Association


Rev. John C. Calhoun

St. Luke in the Fields


Rev. Luis-Alfredo Cartagena Zayas

Park Avenue Christian Church (DOC)/UCC


Maria Ceraulo, Women’s Issues Chair

Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock (UUCSR)


Rev. Angela Cesa


Rev. Mark Chaffin

Emmanuel Baptist Church – Albany


Minister Dierdra Clark

New York Covenant Church, New Rochelle


Reverend Kymberley Clemons-Jones

Valley Stream Presbyterian Church


Rabbi Judy Cohen-Rosenberg

Community Reform Temple


Susan Converse, Elder

Reformed Church of Locust Valley


J. Cooper Conway, Priest in Charge

St Paul’s on the Hill Episcopal Church & Trinity Episcopal Church, Ossining


Reverend Peter Cook

New York State Council of Churches



Martha Corneil, Member

Journey United Church of Christ


Richard Corney, Episcopal Priest, Retired


Reverend Charles Coverdale

First Baptist Church of Riverhead


Michael Dack, UCC Pastor

New York Conference


Rev. Doris K. Dalton

Memorial United Methodist Church of White Plains


Rev. Sandy Damhof

Journey UCC


The Rev. Noelle Damico

United Church of Christ Metro Association


Maxine Dangler

Unitarian Universalists At Shelter Rock (UUCSR)


The Rev. Adrian Dannhauser

Episcopal Church of the Incarnation


Rev. Dr. Susan G. De George, Stated Clerk

Hudson River Presbytery


Rev. Lindsey De Kruif

Christ Community Reformed Church


The Rev. Dr. Gawain de Leeuw, OA, Rector

St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church, White Plains


Mary Dewar

Garden City Community Church (UCC)

Rev. Robert Dievendorf


Pastor Kathy Donley

Emmanuel Baptist Church, Albany


Rev. Joyce Dugger, Protestant Chaplain

Hofstra University


Pastor Willie Elliott

Helping Hands Outreach Ministries

Rev. Brian C. Ellis-Gibbs

Queens Baptist Church


Rev. Que English

NYC Clergy Roundtable and the Bronx Clergy Criminal Justice Roundtable


Pastor Angel M. Falcon

Faith Alive Ministries


Rev. Valerie Faust

Living Word Tabernacle


Rabbi Michael Feinberg

Greater New York Labor Religion Coalition


Judith Fishkin

Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock (UUCSR)


Reverand Joel A. Gibson

Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies


Carole Flot, Member

Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock (UUCSR)


Wayne Francis, Lead Pastor

Authentic Church, White Plains


David Gaewski, Conference Minister

New York Conference, United Church of Christ


Rev. Dr. Steven Meredith Garmon, Minister

Community Unitarian Universalist Congregation, White Plains


Carl Garrison, Minister of Homeless Outreach

Manhattan Church of Christ


Lisa Gasstrom, Clerk

Westbury Monthly Meeting Religious Society of Friends (Quaker)


The Rev. Jeffrey A. Geary, Pastor

White Plains Presbyterian Church



Rev. Thomas Getman

Retired Chaplain


Richard Gilbert, President

Interfaith Impact of NYS


Reverend Thomas Goodhue

Long Island Council of Churches


Reverend Kenneth Graham

Presbytery of Long Island


Reverend Farrell Graves

All Souls Episcopal Church


Youth Pastor Bryan Greaves

Holy Church of Christ


Minister Justin Greaves


Rabbi David Greenberg

Temple Sharaay Tefila, Bedford


Rev. William Grosch

United Church of Christ (UCC)


Rev. Wayne Hampton

Assemblies of God


Kristina Hansen, Senior Pastor

St. Paul’s UMC (Northport)


Rev. Andrea M. Hargett

St. Matthew’s AME Church of Hollis Queens


The Rev. Susan C. Harriss, Rector

Christ’s (Episcopal) Church, Rye


The Reverend Sarah E. Henkel

White Plains Presbyterian Church


Apostle LaRuth Henry

Phoebe Christian Center


Apostle Joan Hicks-Corbett

Greater Works Ministries


Rabbi Julie Hilton Danan

Pleasantville Community Synagogue


The Rev. Dr. David R. Holder, Founder and Senior Pastor

New York Covenant Church, New Rochelle


Co-Pastor Samantha Holmes Elliott

Helping Hands Outreach Ministries


Reverend Dr. Tim Hoyt Duncan

First Presbyterian of Northport


Bishop Donald S. Hudson

Common Ground Christian Life Center


Reverend Dr. Jimmy Hulsey

First Presbyterian Church of Smithtown


Reverend Thomas Humphrey

Long Island Men’s Center


Rev. Tomi Jacobs-Ziobro

First Congregational UCC


Rabbi Jonathan Jaffe

Temple Beth El of Northern Westchester, Chappaqua


Rev. Lisa D. Jenkins

St. Matthew’s Baptist Church of Harlem


The Rev. Dr. Marie Jerge

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)


Reverend Kate Jones-Calone

Setauket Presbyterian Church


Jone Johnson Lewis, Clergy Leader

Riverdale-Yonkers Society for Ethical Culture and Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture


Rev. Voni Johyn

Isaiah Temple Queens


Rev. David M. Jolly

New York State Council of Churches


Reverend Eddie J. Jusino

First Presbyterian Church of Freeport


Robert F. Keeler, Member

Pax Christi Long Island


Jim Ketcham, Executive Director

FOCUS Churches of Albany, Inc.


Rabbi Rena Kieval

Congregation Ohav Shalom


Rev. Alan Kinney

Eastern Parkway United Methodist Church


Pastor Roy Kirton

Circle of Love Ministries


Reverend John W. Kloepper, Phd.

Presbytery of Long Island


Rev. Liz Koenig

Apostles Church BK


Father Andrew Koterba

St. Francis Polish National Catholic Church


Rev. Harold Lay

Parkway Community Church


Rev. Alison Leitzel

First Lutheran Church, Albany NY


Reverend Cynthia Liggon

First Baptist Church of Riverhead


The Rev. Dr. Sara Litzner

Zion Lutheran Church


Rev. Yvonne Logan

Grace Episcopal Church


Rev. John Long

Presbyterian Church (USA)


Rev. Mark J. Lukens

Bethany Congregational United Church of Christ


Rev. Henry S. Manley

The Riverside Church


Rabbi Chaim Marder, Spiritual Leader

Hebrew Institute of White Plains


Rev. Zac Martin

Park Slope’s Sovereign Grace City Church, Trellis


Mr. Geoff Martin

Riverside Church New York


Rev. Dr. Roger J. Martin

Faith United Church, Oswego New York


Rev. Taryn Mattice

Protestant Cooperative Ministry at Cornell


Rev. Emily McNeill

Labor-Religion Coalition of NYS


Rabbi Shira Milgrom

Congregation Kol Ami, White Plains


Minister Gregory Millings

New York Covenant Church, New Rochelle


Father Stephen Mimnaugh

Church of St. Francs of Assisi


Reverend Chuck M. Cary D. Min

Westhampton Presbyterian Church


Rev. Heather Moody

First Congregational United Church of Christ in Poughkeepsie, NY


Rev. Dr. Eleanor Moody-Shepherd

New York Theological Seminary


Reverend Janice Moore-Caputo

North Shore Presbyterian Church of Great Neck


Rev. Darren M. Morton, Ed. D., Senior Pastor

Macedonia Baptist Church, Mount Vernon


Rev. Dorothy Muller, Member

Hudson River Presbytery



Rev. Norma Prina Murphy

Hammond Presbyterian Church


Pastor Mark Musser

New Village Church


Pastor Andrew Tobias Nelson

Christ our Emmanuel Lutheran Church


Rev. Brooke Newell

Potsdam United Methodist Church


Rev. Alan Newton

American Baptist Churches


Frank Nichols, Chaplain

Retired, UCC clergy


Reverend Karyn O’Beirne

Unitarian Universalist Society of South Suffolk


Pastor Jim O’Hanlon, Pastor

St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Rye Brook


Rev. Dr. Moses Oladosu

Resurrection And Life Church, Bronx


Rev. Greg Osterberg

Mountain Rise UCC


Rev. Emily Otto

United Church of Christ


Freeman L. Palmer, Associate Conference Minister

NY Conference United Church of Christ


Joseph Paparone, Advocacy Coordinator

FOCUS Churches of Albany


Rev. Forrest T. Parkinson

International Council of Community Churches (ICCC)


The Ven. Bill Parnell

Episcopal Diocese of New York


Pastor Carol A. Paynter

Smithtown United Methodist Church

Susan Peters

Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Huntington


Elaine Peters

Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock (UUCSR)


Rev. Thomas Philipp

Old South Haven Presbyterian Church


Pastor Shirley Pudney-Eilers

Faith United Church of Christ, Williamsville, NY


Minister Rebecca Putman

Northville United Presbyterian Church

Rev. Erik Rasmussen

Woodbury (NY) United Methodist Church


Reverend Michelle Raysor

Connecting for Purpose


Reverend James B. Rea, Jr.

Bethany Presbyterian Church


Ruth Reeves, Congregant

Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock


Rev. Dr. Lillian F. Reynolds, Minister for Community Based Programs

Grace Baptist Church, Mt. Vernon


Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson

Senior Pastor, Grace Baprist Church


Rev. Raymond Rivera

Latino Pastoral Action Center, Inc.


Jerry Rivers

The Vineyard Church/North American Climate, Conservation and Environment


Bishop Earnest Robinson

Long Island Breakthrough Center


The Rev. Dr. Martha Rollins Overall

St. Ann’s Church of Morrisania


Rev. Dr. Bonnie Rosborough, Pastor

Briarcliff Congregational Church


Apostle A.S. Rose

Upon this Rock Ministries, Inc., Mount Vernon


Mary Sharon Ryan

Emmanuel UCC, Massena, NY


Mary Beth Sasso

Episcopal Charities of the Diocese of New York


Reverend Dr.Tracie Saunders

Presbytery of Long Island


Cantor Eric Schulmiller

Reconstructionist Synagogue of North Shore


Ms. Ingrid Schwarzkopf

Religious Society of Friends (Quaker)


Rev. Merle Showers

University UMC


Barbara Shuck

Presbytery of Utica


Ed Simmons

Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock


Minister Marlon Simpkins

New York Covenant Church, New Rochelle


Ms. Eugena Simpson

West Harlem Group Assistance Inc. (Convent)


Rev. Denise Smartt

The United Methodist Church


Minister Alex Smith

New York Covenant Church, New Rochelle


Rev. Gary T. Smith

East Side Congregational UCC



Pastor Marcel Snuggs

Harvest Christian Bible Church


Rev. Dr. Ruth E. Snyder

Church of the Nativity UCC, Buffalo


Victoria F. Spielman

Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock


Rev. Eleanor Stanton

United Church of Christ


Rev. Marlis Stoner

Presbyterian Church USA


Pastor Katie Jo Suddaby

American Baptist Churches USA


Jackie Sullivan, Retired Chaplain at Albion Correction Facility

Albion Correctional Facility


Rev. Lawrence W. Swensen

The Long Island Council of Churches


Minister Sherin Swift

New York Covenant Church, New Rochelle


Reverend Mark Tammen

Presbyterian of Long Island


Ms. LaSonya Thompson

WCUPA Doctoral Program


John Tilton

Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock (UUCSR)


Rev. Barbara Toll

Community Congregational Church


Marlene Towne

United Methodist Woman


Rev. Erwin Lee Trollinger, Jr

Calvary Baptist Church, White Plains


Ms. Judith L Turnock

The Riverside Church


Minister John Udochi

New York Covenant Church, New Rochelle


David Van Epps, Retired Senior Chaplain

Ogdensburg Correctional Facility, NYSDOCCS


Rev. Shannan Vance-Ocampo

Albany Presbytery, Presbyterian Church USA


Pastor Noel Vanek

The Community Church of the Pelhams


Reverend Canon Richard D. Visconti

All Souls Episcopal Church


Pastor Pieter Visscher

Western Adirondack Presbyterian Church


Joseph Volker, Coordinator

Pax Christi Long Island


Pastor Kyle Watkins

Safe House Ministries


Rev. Jeff Wells

The Church of the Village, NYC


Stacy Wilder, Children’s Ministries Director

First Congregational Church


Pastor Gregory Wilk

Abundant Life Church


Lisa Willey, Christian Education Leader

UCC Bayberry


Rev. Dr. Verlin D. Williams, Pastor

Union Baptist Church, White Plains


Reverend Scott Williams

Christ First Presbyterian Hempstead


Rev. Joan M. Williams

Beth-Hark Christian Counseling Center, Inc.


Rev. Michael Walrond                              First Corinthians Baptist Church

Sister Mary Harvey, RSM


Rabbi Robert N Levine

Congregation Rodeph Sholom, New York


Rabbi Angela Buchdahl

Central Synagogue


Vince Colonno

CEO of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany


Rev. Erica Baron

Unitarian Universalist Congregation of

The Catskills


Rev. Micah Bucey

Judson Memorial Church


Rev. John Collins

Memorial UMC


Rabbi Irving Greenberg



Sister Maureen Harris

St. Martin de Porres Church


Joyce Hartwell, Interfaith Miniter and Founder

Artists’ All-Faith Center


Rev. Dr. Timothy Hoyer

Gloria Dei Luthern Church


Rev. Paul Kelly


Sister Honora Kinney

Sister of t. Joseph


Rabbi Alex Lazarus-Klein

Congregation Shir Shalom


Rabbi Ellen Lippmann

Kolot Chayeinu/Voices of Our Lives


Reverend Raymond Rivera

Latino Pastoral Action Center/Sanctuary Church


Rev. Merle Showers

University UMC


Minister Stacey Midge

First Reformed Church of Schenectdy


Senior Pastor Marcos Miranda

Action in Christ International


Sister Teresa Raftery

Sisters, Servants of the Immactulate Heart of Mary


Reverand Konrad Raup

Journey UCC


Sister Marlene Ann Roeger

Sisters of St. Joseph


Robb Smith

Executive Director

Interfaith Impact of NYS


Rabbi Brian Walt

Tikkun v’Or


Rev. Ron Garner

Memorial Congregation Church

Sr. Margaret Anne Meyer, MMM


Rabbi Peter J. Rubinstein

Rabbi Emeritus of Central Synagogue

and Director of Jewish Community and

Bronfman Center for Jewish Life

92nd Street Y


William C. Wolff, AFSC

Executive Direcor

LaSalle School


Rev. Earl Arnold

Presbyterian Church U.S.A.


Rev. Bruce E. Williams

Bridge Street A. M. E. Church


Dr. Edward O. Williamson, Pastor-Teacher

Bethel Baptist Church, White Plains



Rev. Melvin E. Wilson

African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church


The Rev. Claire Woodley, Rector

St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Mohegan Lake


Pastor Frederick Woodward

First Presbyterian Church of Greenlawn


Perry Wootten, Pastor

First Presbyterian Church, Ossining


Bart Worden, Clergy Leader

Ethical Culture Society of Westchester


Rev. Ned Wight

Mr. Barrington Wright

The Riverside Church


Rev. Dustin Wright

Messiah Lutheran Church


Rev. Theresa Ora Wyatt, JD

Churchill Baptist Church Of Christ, Inc., NY, NY


Rev. Dr. Robert E. Young, Sr. Pastor

Mt. Olivet Baptist Church, Peekskill


Lady Rachel Young Watkins

Safe House Ministrie


Unitarian Universalist