Hundreds of Advocates, Elected Officials and Law Enforcement Experts Urge State Legislature to Pass Raise the Age Legislation

Press Releases

March 8, 2016

Contact: Kenneth Londono,, 646-335-0420

Hundreds of advocates, elected officials, law enforcement experts and members of the Raise the Age NY campaign converged today at a press conference urging legislators to pass legislation in this year’s state budget to raise the age of criminal responsibility in New York. New York remains one of only two states in the country where 16 year-olds are automatically charged as adults, which has been shown to increase the chance of re-offending and reduce public safety.

Governor Cuomo included a proposal to raise the age in his 2016-2017 Executive Budget. The proposal holds youth charged with misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies accountable in Family Court and creates a special youth part of the adult Criminal Court to handle the cases of youth charged with violent felonies. A final budget is due by April 1.

“Some members seem to be deliberately mischaracterizing this proposal,” said Samantha Levine, Acting Executive Director of the Children’s Defense Fund – New York. “Under this legislation, youth who commit misdemeanors and non-violent felonies will be treated Family Court – which has been shown to reduce the likelihood of future crime – while those who commit violent crimes will continue to be treated appropriately. This bill is good for young people and good for public safety.”

“We can no longer tolerate a system that takes young people who may have made a mistake and brands them with a scarlet letter for the rest of their lives. Charging youth as adults actually makes us all less safe,” said Paige Pierce, CEO of Families Together in New York State. “It makes it much more difficult for youth to turn their lives around. Raising the age gives these children a second chance, a chance to build a better future.”

“If New York really wants to be the progressive capital of the country then it should raise the age. New York is one of two states, the other North Carolina, which still charges 16 and 17 year olds as adults,” said Jennifer March, Executive Director of Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York. “Research into brain development affirms that adolescents are in fact children and that the human brain is not fully formed until the age of 25. This means they can learn from their mistakes and turn their lives around. It is time to raise the age.

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.

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.

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 crimes 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 be rearrested for a violent crime, they also had higher re-incarceration ratesand shorter time periods to re-arrestthan 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

Lead group members:

Center for Community Alternatives

Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York

Correctional Association of New York

Families Together in New York State

Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies

Herstory Writers Workshop, Inc.


Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy

The Children’s Agenda

The Children’s Defense Fund – New York

The Fund for Modern Courts

Westchester Children’s Association

Youth Represent

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

Harry Belafonte

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 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

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

Human Services Council

Jewish Child Care Association

Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club

Latino Justice PRLDEF

Lawyers for Children

Leake &Watts Services, Inc.

Legal Action Center

Legal Aid Society

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.

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 Society for Ethical Culture

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 Fortune Society

The Legal Aid Society

The New York Foundling

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







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