On March 20th, 2015, Westchester Children’s Association hosted a discussion of the recommendations made by Governor Cuomo’s Commission on Youth, Public Safety and Justice in support of raising the age of criminal responsibility in New York. Currently, New York and North Carolina are the only two states that treat 16 and 17 year olds as adults in the justice system.
Melanie Hartzog, a member of the Commission and Executive Director of Children’s Defense Fund-NY, explained the juvenile justice reforms that have been proposed. Next, a panel discussed how these reforms might be implemented in Westchester County.
Several members of the press attended the event and reported on the discussion of the Raise the Age campaign.
“‘I was young, dumb and immature,’ McCloud said. ‘I can honestly say that. I made a very immature decision.’
After serving his time, McCloud said he stayed out of trouble until 19, when he was arrested for assault and robbery. He was convicted a second time, but spent time in a youth shelter program before he served his sentence. He credits that program with teaching him the life skills he needed to become the person he is today…
Raise the Age would likely have kept McCloud out of prison after his first crime, as his case would have been handled in Family Court, which is designed to steer youth to rehabilitation and support services.”
“Children’s advocates and former teenage inmates met at the White Plains Library to push lawmakers to raise the age a teen can by prosecuted as an adult.
They would like to see the age raised from 16 to 18 years old.
Advocates are calling for accountability from teens, but don’t want violent and non-violent offenders to be treated in the same way.”