Thursday, February 11, 2016

Raise the Age

The Hudson City Democratic Committee (HCDC) has unanimously endorsed the proposal that the Common Council support raising the age for criminal prosecution for youthful offenders from 16 to 18.

“Council Majority Leader Tiffany Garriga, who has been working with the Raise the Age campaign, introduced a resolution urging the State Senate and Assembly to get behind Governor Cuomo’s recommendation to change the age of criminal prosecution for youthful offenders from 16 to 18,” HCDC Chair Michael Chameides said.

“We believe raising the age is good practice for the State and for Hudson. We urge the Common Council and Mayor Hamilton to approve this resolution and send a message to Albany, to act on the Governor’s proposal.” he added.

In 2014, the Governor’s Commission on Youth, Public Safety and Justice issued a report with a number of recommendations, the principal one being to increase the age for adult criminal prosecution. The Commission argued that, in the words of a New York Times editorial in December, “it is widely understood that prosecuting children as adults turns them into hardened criminals and that steering them toward juvenile court rehabilitative services gives them a better chance at normal lives…The truth is that treating children as adults creates the prospect of more crime, not less.”

“As we studied the issue,” Chameides said, here is what we learned:

  • 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.
  • 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 100% more likely to be rearrested for a violent crime, they also had higher re-incarceration rates and shorter time periods to re-arrest than their New Jersey peers.
  • 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.

The Hudson Common Council will vote on the resolution at its meeting on Tuesday, February 16. For more information, contact Michael Chameides at chair@hudsoncitydemocrats.org.