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Raise the age in New York’s criminal justice system

March 19, 2015
Lake Placid News

To the editor:

The time has come for the criminal justice system to treat young people across New York state as children, not adults.

Currently, New York is one of just two states in the U.S. - the other is North Carolina - that imprisons and jails offenders younger than 18 years of age. According to Raise the Age, a public awareness campaign, other states have rejected this practice because "research into brain development underscores that adolescents are in fact children and that the human brain is not fully formed until the age of 25."

Adolescents are children. Prosecuting and placing them in the adult criminal justice system doesn't work for them and doesn't work for public safety. Holding them as responsible as adults for those decisions isn't right. As adults, it is up to us to recognize this and adjust what we do when a teenager breaks the law.

Governor Andrew Cuomo's Commission on Youth, Public Safety, & Justice has proposed a package of reforms to the juvenile justice system. The goal is to help troubled youth lead a more productive life, in turn making our communities safer and more productive.

We learned a great deal about this issue from the Prison Time Media Project, produced by North Country Public Radio, which Adirondack Foundation was proud to support. Recently, the Adirondack Diversity Advisory Council formed to develop and promote strategies to help the Adirondack Park become more welcoming and inclusive of all New Yorkers, both visitors and permanent residents. We call on Albany to help us achieve a brighter future for our communities by raising the age as the governor has proposed.

We encourage you to learn more about the Raise the Age campaign. Visit for more information.

Cali Brooks

Executive director, Adirondack Foundation

Organizational member of Adirondack Diversity Advisory Council



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