Westchester Children’s Association received a grant through the Westchester Community Foundation to teach two Teen Advocacy Leadership courses. We focused the advocacy lessons around one of our priority issues, Raise the Age (click here to learn more about RTA). We will feature guest posts from our young advocates. This series will continue through the month of March. We hope you enjoy their stories as much as we do.
Guest Blog #5
J.J., Youth Shelter Program
Teenagers in the U.S. have been getting incarcerated left and right for years now. Prisons are flooded with underage kids and that should not be set up like that. I feel that the age should be raised because it is not right that adolescents from the ages of 16 to 17 are being locked down in adult prison. The brain is not done fully growing until the age of 25 so therefore adolescents do not think the same as normal adults. Nearly 83% of 16 and 17 year olds arrested in Westchester County in 2015 were non-violent offenders. Studies have found that young people transferred to the adult criminal justice system are 34% more likely to be re-arrested for violent and other crimes than youth retained in the youth justice system. In 2010, the state of Connecticut passed legislation to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 18, leaving New York and North Carolina as the only two states treating 16- and 17-year olds as adults.
 Source: New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services. Computerized Criminal History System as of 1/17/2017
 Effects on Violence of Laws and Policies Facilitating the Transfer of Youth from the Juvenile to the Adult Justice System: Report on Recommendations of the Task Force on Community Preventive Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, November 30, 2007, http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5609a1.htm
WCA would like to thank the Westchester Community Foundation for their generous support of the Teen Advocacy Leadership program.