Coalition of National and Local Advocates, Youth, Parents, Law enforcement and Legal Representatives, Faith Leaders, Service Providers and Unions Write to Elected Leaders re: Raise the Age

May 2, 2016

Dear Governor Cuomo, Majority Leader Flanagan, IDC Leader Klein, and Speaker Heastie:

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.

Sincerely,

Raise the Age New York Campaign

Allegany Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, Inc.

Belvedere Health Services, LLC

Berkshire Farms

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

FPWA

The Fund for Modern Courts

Good Shepherd Services

Haywood Burns Institute

Herstory Writers Workshop, Inc.

Hillside Family of Agencies

Horizon Corporations

Hospitality House

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

mercyFirst

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

Sheltering Arms

SparkAction

Suspension Representation Project at NYU Law School

Westchester Children’s Association

The Working Families Organization

Youth Represent