Raise the Age advocate wants the opportunity for kids, like him, to get a second chance

“ALBANY, N.Y. (WROC-TV) – New York State is one of two states that charges 16 and 17-year-olds as adults.

On Wednesday, the State Senate Majority Leader says raising the eligible age will be a big topic at this year’s session.

Capital corespondent Nick Perreault talked with one man who supports the move based on his own experience.

“I’m a father, a tax paying citizen instead of a tax burden on taxpayers,” said Jim St. Germain.

St. Germain says he’s lucky to be telling his story in a suit behind a podium instead of the alternative orange jumpsuit and jail cell, reliving his mistakes.

“I was having run-ins with the law and started hustling and selling drugs at the age of 14 as a way of trying

to help my grandmother pay the rent,” said St. Germain.

At 15, two class D felonies sent him to a Brooklyn juvenile detention center for a year. He ended up serving two due to bad behavior. Had St. Germain been arrested four months later, at 16, he wouldn’t been charged as an adult and likely served much longer.

“I would not be standing here today if I did not go through the juvenile justice system.”

St. Germain credits mentoring in the juvenile system that turned his focus toward education, allowing him to earn his GED and later, a bachelor’s in political science.

Now, he’s urging lawmakers to give other teens that second chance.

“In the adult system you’re basically just warehoused, the individuals there and unfortunately learn

just how to become better criminals,” said St. Germain.

It comes down to a simple question for the 27-year-old.

“What would you rather have your tax dollars do, give young people who’ve made mistakes an opportunity to

be where I am today or would you rather further punish these young people and further push them through the criminal justice system by charging them as an adult,” he said.

He hopes lawmakers do not waste this opportunity.

“I was no better than them at their age,” he said. “It’s just that I got an opportunity many of them was not given.”

To give young kids, like him, a second chance. ”

Original Link (Rochesterfirst.com)

http://www.rochesterfirst.com/news/local-news/raise-the-age-advocate-wants-the-opportunity-for-kids-like-him-to-get-a-second-chance/661417146