LatinoJustice supports recommendations from the Governor’s Commission on Youth, Public Safety and Justice to raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction

Posted on 01/20/2015 @ 02:23 PM

Tags: juvenile justice, comission

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 20, 2015

CONTACT: John Garcia, Director of Communications, 212-739-7513, 917-673-9095 or jgarcia@latinojustice.org.

New York State must raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction to make it consistent with 48 other states and must also revamp how the entire judicial system deals with adolescent offenders, according to a commission tasked with studying juvenile justice and providing the Governor with recommendations for change.The Commission on Youth, Public Safety and Justice released its report today.

Presently, New York, along with North Carolina, is one of only two states that prosecute children as adults and places them in an adult criminal justice system. New York presently prosecutes all youth as adults when they turn sixteen years of age, the year when juvenile jurisdiction ends.

The Commission made a total of 38 recommendations, with the top two being to raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction to 18 and to raise the lower the age of juvenile jurisdiction to twelve, except for homicide offenses, which should be raised to 10.

LatinoJustice President and General Counsel Juan Cartagena served on the Commission. The Commission included judges, police officers, academics, social justice advocates, funders and elected officials.

“Another critically important recommendation here is to immediately remove 16 and 17-years-olds from adult prisons and jails. Every single study we’ve seen tells us that there are serious risks in putting adolescents in adult prison populations,” said Cartagena. “These youngsters are more likely to be physically beaten and abused than if they were in juvenile facilities. Tragically, the rate of youths committing suicide when they are incarcerated with adults is 36 times higher than when confined to juvenile facilities. This could finally place New York among the states that use the best thinking about the development and maturity of adolescent minds.”

Report

Black and Hispanic youth make up 33 percent of 16- and 17-year-olds statewide. However they also comprise 72 percent of all arrests and 77 percent of all felony arrests across the state. Young men of color constitute 82 percent of youth sentenced to adult confinement, according to the State Division of Criminal Justice Services.

In 2015, 800 inmates in local jails and state prisons were under eighteen years old. They are twice as likely to be physically harmed by other inmates and staff, five times more likely to be sexually assaulted, and eight times more likely to commit suicide per the Campaign for Youth Justice.

“We trust the governor will use all of his powers to secure appropriate legislation and to make these reforms a reality,” Cartagena said.

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