Raise the Age NY Campaign Statement on Raise The Age Legislation

In response to the passing of Raise the Age legislation in New York, Jennifer March, Executive Director of Citizens’ Committee for Children-New York; Naomi Post, Executive Director of the Children’s Defense Fund-New York and Paige Pierce, CEO of Families Together in New York State released the following statement on behalf of the Raise the Age NY campaign:

Once the Senate joins the Assembly in passing this “Raise the Age” legislation, tens of thousands of New York’s youth who make a mistake will be treated in an age-appropriate manner, offering them an opportunity to turn their lives around.  While no legislation is perfect, we applaud Governor Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Heastie and members of the Assembly, the Senate Majority, Minority and Independent Democratic Caucus, and the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Caucus for being “smart on crime.” We are close to passing this historic legislation due in large part to the formerly incarcerated youth and their families, faith leaders, members of the legal community, direct service providers, and advocates who made their voices heard for many years. We look forward to the final passage of this legislation and working with our elected officials and city and state agencies to make sure that New York does right by all youth who come into contact with the justice system.

For more information about the Raise the Age campaign, visit www.raisetheageny.com and follow the campaign on social media using the hashtag #RaisetheAgeNY.

About the Raise the Age NY campaign:

Raise the Age NY is a public awareness campaign that includes national and local advocates, youth, parents, law enforcement and legal representative groups, faith leaders, and unions that have come together to increase public awareness of the need to implement a comprehensive approach to raise the age of criminal responsibility in New York State so that the legal process responds to all children as children and provides services and placement options that better meet the rehabilitative needs of all children and youth.

New York is one of only two states in the country (the other is North Carolina) that have failed to recognize what research and science have confirmed – adolescents are children, and prosecuting and placing them in the adult criminal justice system doesn’t work for them and doesn’t work for public safety.

Children who are prosecuted as adults are more likely to continue committing crimes in the future. Children who are treated as children are more likely to stay out of jail, and out of the justice system:

  • Studies have found that young people prosecuted in the adult criminal justice system are 34% more likely to be re-arrested for violent or other crime than youth retained in the youth justice system.
  • A study comparing youth prosecuted in New York’s adult courts to young people prosecuted for the same felonies in New Jersey’s juvenile courts found that the New York youth were more likely to recidivate. Not only were New York youth 100% more likely to rearrested for a violent crime, they also had higher re-incarceration rates and shorter time periods to re-arrest than their New Jersey peers.
  • In 2013, the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission found that when the state began prosecuting 17-year-olds as juveniles, juvenile crime continued to decline. Moreover, between 2010 when the law changed, until 2013, the state experienced a 14% decrease in violent crime. Contrary to what opponents had predicted, including 17-year-olds did not overload the juvenile justice system, nor did it increase juvenile offenses.

Research into brain development underscores that adolescents are in fact children and that the human brain is not fully formed until the age of 25:

  • As the cognitive skills of adolescents are developing, adolescents’ behavior is often impulsive and they lack the ability to focus on the consequences of their behavior.
  • Because the adolescent brain is still developing, the character, personality traits and behavior of adolescents are highly receptive to change; adolescents respond well to interventions, learn to make responsible choices, and are likely to grow out of negative or delinquent behavior.
  • Raise the Age NY is a campaign that supports raising the age of criminal responsibility for all children in New York to improve outcomes for children and public safety.

For more information about the Raise the Age campaign, visit www.raisetheageny.com.

Lead group members:

Center for Community Alternatives |  @CCA_NY

Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York | @CCCNewYork

Correctional Association of New York | @CANY_1844

Families Together in NYS | @ftnys

Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies |  @FPWA

Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy | @SchuylerCenter

The Children’s Agenda | @ChildrensAgenda 

The Children’s Defense Fund – New York |  @CDFNewYork

The Fund for Modern Courts | @ModernCourts

Westchester Children’s Association | @wca4kids

Youth Represent | @YouthRepresent

With support from: SparkAction @sparkaction


Additional supporters to date:

1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East


Alternatives for Battered Women

American Friends Service Committee (NY)

Amnesty International

Arab American Association of NY

Association for Community Living, Inc.

Association of NYS Youth Bureaus

Association to Benefit Children

Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice  

Bronx Christian Fellowship Church

Bronx Clergy Roundtable

Brooklyn Community Services

Brooklyn Defender Services

Campaign to End the New Jim Crow

Casa Rochester/Monroe County, Inc.

Center for Children’s Initiatives

Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO)

Center for Popular Democracy

Child Welfare Organizing Project

Children’s Village

Citizens Action of New York

City of Glen Cove Youth Bureau

Coalition for Asian American Children and Families

Coalition for Education Justice

Coalition for Hispanic Children and Families

Coalition for the Homeless

Coalition of Black Trade Unionists

Commission on the Public’s Health System

Communities United for Police Reform

Community Connections for Youth

Community Service Society

Community Voices for Youth and Families

Crossway Church

Dignity in Schools Campaign – New York

Equal Justice Initiative

Every Child Matters LI

Faith in New York

Families On The Move of NYC, Inc.

First Corinthian Baptist Church

Forestdale Inc.

Good Shepherd Services

Graham Windham

Harlem Children’s Zone

Harry Belafonte

Herstory Writers Workshop

Human Rights Watch 

Human Services Council

Incarcerated Nation Corp.

Jewish Child Care Association

Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club

Latino Justice PRLDEF

Lawyers for Children

Leake &Watts Services, Inc.

Legal Action Center

Lenox Hill Neighborhood House

Long Island Progressive Coalition

Lutheran Family Health Centers

Make the Road New York
Mental Health Association in New York State, Inc.

MFY Legal Services, Inc.


Montefiore School Health Program


National Association of Social Workers – New York State

National Economic and Social Rights Initiative


Neighborhood Family Services Coalition

New York American Academy of Pediatrics, District II

New York Association of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Providers, Inc.

New York Center for Juvenile Justice

New York Civil Liberties Union

New York Lawyers for the Public Interest

New York Immigration Coalition 

New York Society for Ethical Culture

New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault

New York State Coalition for Children’s Mental Health

New York State Coalition for School-Based Health Centers

New York State Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare

New York Theological Seminary

NYC Jails Action Coalition

Partnership for After School Education (PASE)

Partnership for the Public Good

Partners in Restorative Initiatives

Pumphouse Projects

Save the Kids

SCO Family of Services


Staten Island Council on Child Abuse and Neglect

S.T.R.O.N.G. Youth Inc. 

Teachers Unite

The Black Institute

The Brotherhood/Sister Sol

The Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services (CASES)

The Children’s Aid Society

The Coalition of Behavioral Health Agencies, Inc.

The Door 

The Fortune Society

The Gathering for Justice/ Justice League NYC

The Legal Aid Society

The National Alliance for Mental Illness-New York State 

The New York Foundling

The New York Immigration Coalition

The New York State Dispute Resolution Association 

The Osborne Association

The Partnership For Public Good

The Resolution Plan

Tremont United Methodist Church

United Neighborhood Houses

Unique People Services

Uniting Disabled Individuals, Inc

Urban Health Plan, Inc.

Urban Justice Center

Urban Youth Collaborative


Women’s City Club of New York

Pastor Mike Walrond

William F. Ryan Community Health Network

YA-YA Network (Youth Activists-Youth Allies)