RTA Voices: Jim Saint Germain

On Monday March 13th, over 1,200 faith leaders, advocates and supporters of raising the age of criminal responsibility in New York State convened at Central Synagogue in Manhattan to call on lawmakers to pass meaningful legislation that will protect our kids from the criminal justice system. Governor Cuomo spoke at the event, which featured many powerful voices.

Among those present was Raise The Age NY advocate Jim SaintGermain who was arrested on felony drug charges but charged as a juvenile at the age of 14.  Still below the threshold of being considered an adult, St. Germain was sentenced to a year in a group home near his Brooklyn neighborhood that focused on rehabilitating him. jim Now at 27 and a successful young adult working to reform the criminal justice system, Jim attributes his accomplishments to the alternative opportunities that he received:

“I was placed in a residential program. The staff there, the level of services, the consistency and people providing love in a forgiving environment where I was able to make mistakes as a kid and not pay for it with my life, was critical.”

With days left until New York State’s budget is due, Jim calls for New York State legislature to pass a meaningful Raise the Age bill, one that will actually help kids under family court and give them the opportunities once afforded to him.

“What was so special about me that I was given these chances. That you, as taxpayers, decided that you were willing to make an investment on my life… are you happy with the return you received on the investment you made on my life? Give other young people the same opportunities that I was offered.”

Jim is currently the Chair and Founder of PLOT (Preparing Leaders of Tomorrow), a mentoring program for at-risk youth between the ages of nine and twenty-one living in Brooklyn, NY and was appointed to serve on the President’s Taskforce on 21st Century Policing under the Obama Administration.

Watch Jim’s FULL speech (skip to to 2.08):