We recently held a town hall meeting in Mount Kisco to discuss the New York State Raise the Age campaign. New York is one of only two states in the country that still process 16- and 17-year-olds in the adult criminal justice system instead of the juvenile justice system (the other state is North Carolina). On April 9, 2014 Governor Cuomo announced that he has established the Commission on Youth, Public Safety and Justice to provide “concrete, actionable recommendations regarding youth in New York’s criminal and juvenile justice systems by the end of this calendar year.”
Missed the town hall meeting? Check out this Storify that summarizes the evening’s lively conversation.
So what does the data have to say about the Raise the Age campaign?
Several studies suggest that youth who are processed in the adult criminal justice system experience higher recidivism, or re-offense, rates. What’s more, they’re more likely to commit violent crimes in the future than those who were processed in the juvenile justice system. You can read an overview of some of these studies through a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report.
In our fact sheet below, we’ve highlighted some interesting data on the types of crimes committed by 16- and 17-year-olds in Westchester County, revealing that the majority are misdemeanors.
Also worth noting is the disparity between arrest and incarceration rates for 16- and 17-year-olds of different races. While black youth make up only 33% of the 16- and 17-year-olds that are arrested in New York State (excluding New York City), they account for 52% of incarcerations.
There’s much more to be said on this topic — adolescent psychology, increased risk of abuse and rape, higher rates of suicide, questions of public safety, and many other factors contribute to the conversation — but we hope this encourages you to explore the data about raising the age of criminal responsibility.