January 4, 2017 – Times Union
“I can’t believe we’re here saying this again,” organizer Joe Paparone said Wednesday at the start of a Raise the Age demonstration in the Capitol.
For several years now, criminal justice system reform advocates have been pushing, with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s help, a “Raise the Age” initiative that would prevent many 16 and 17-year-old youths from being treated as adults in the criminal justice system.
Under the proposal, which hasn’t gotten through the Republican-controlled Senate, those charged with non-violent crimes would go to family rather than criminal court. And while juveniles are no longer sent to adult units in the state prison system, they can still end up in county jails — which Raise the Age would end, noted Paige Pierce, CEO of Families Together in New York State, one of several social service groups along with religious organizations in favor of the measure.The measure would also require that 16 and 17-year-olds have the opportunity to call their parents if they are arrested, said Pierce.
Many of those at Wednesday’s demonstration were with faith groups and they believe its simply wrong to treat juveniles as adults in the criminal justice system.
“It is just the moral and right thing to do,” said Barbara Zaron of Reform Jewish Voice of New York State.
And Robb Smith, of Interfaith Impact of NYS, referenced research showing that the brains of 13 or even 16-year-olds aren’t fully developed.
Many of those present said they were confident that Cuomo would put a Raise the Age measure in his budget proposal, once again putting the focus on the Senate for possible passage.”