Raise The Age Town Hall Meeting Addresses Controversial Issue

In their ongoing effort to raise awareness about the issue of 16 and 17 year old offenders in New York being treated as adults, the Westchester Children’s Association will hold their second “Raise The Age” Town Hall Meeting on Thursday, May 8 at the Mount Kisco Library at 6:00 pm. The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. For information and to register visit: http://conta.cc/1n6H93w or call (914) 946-7676 x308.

New York and North Carolina are the only 2 states in the country that still treat youth offenders as adults. According to a report, Criminal Justice Case Processing of 16 17 Year Olds, prepared by the Department of Criminal Justice in 2013, 46,000 16 and 17 year olds were arrested in New York State in 2010. In Westchester County in the same year, 1,236 16 and 17 year olds were arrested. Of those arrests in Westchester, 70% were misdemeanors.

Research has shown that when young people are treated as juveniles re-arrest rates are lower than those of a similar age who are processed through an adult system. In fact, studies have found that young people transferred to the adult criminal justice system were approximately 33.7% more likely to be rearrested for a violent crime than youth retained in the juvenile justice system. Further research shows that approximately 80% of youth released from adult prisons reoffend and are more likely to commit more serious crimes.  Excluding New York City, 40% of those arrested are black or Hispanic, but represent 64% of those incarcerated.

“Treating children as children is the right thing to do. The science tells us that the human brain is not fully formed until the age of 25. The fact that their brains are continuing to grow means adolescents can  respond well to interventions, learn to make responsible choices, and are likely to grow out of negative or delinquent behavior. All young people deserve a second chance,” said Allison Lake, Deputy Director of the Westchester Children’s Association.

The Raise the Age Town Hall Meetings are part of a state-wide campaign that includes national and local advocates, youth, parents, law enforcement and legal representative groups, faith leaders, and unions that have come together to increase public awareness of the need to implement a comprehensive approach to raise the age of criminal responsibility in New York so that the legal process responds to all children as children and services and placement options better meet the rehabilitative needs of all children and youth.

Among those who will offer comments about the issue at the Town Hall Meeting are:

  • Daniel Berger, New York Civil Liberties Union
  • Cathy Johansen, retired Peekskill Police Officer
  • A young adult who has been impacted by the current criminal justice system
  • Allison Lake, Westchester Children’s Association

Funding for this Raise the Age Town Hall Meeting has been generously provided by The Tow Foundation.

Media Contact: All inquiries from the press should be made to media@wca4kids.org.