In an open letter hand-delivered to Albany, the Schuyler Center joined sixty state-wide and national organizations including international human rights groups, social workers, faith-based organizations and children’s advocates, in strongly urging the passage of Raise the Age legislation before the legislative session’s end this week.
Currently, New York is one of only two states that prosecutes all 16- and 17-year-olds in the justice system as adults. New York also houses 16- and 17-year-olds in adult jails and prisons, where they are at grave risk of suicide, rape, and physical abuse, and often do not receive appropriate services.
With days remaining until the 2015 legislative session ends, it is imperative that there be no further delay in raising the age. The letter describes the horrific risks faced by youth incarcerated as adults, the collateral consequences of prosecuting children as adults, and evidence from other states that raising the age has proven to increase public safety.
Citing a recent case of suicide of a young man as a clear casualty of the existing practice and proof of why swift action must occur, the advocates wrote: “The tragic suicide of Kalief Browder illustrates the urgent need to raise the age immediately… We cannot lose another life as a result of this archaic policy.”