New York is one of only two states in the country that prosecutes all 16 and 17 year olds in the justice system as adults, with zero exceptions. Nearly 28,000 16-and 17-year-olds are arrested as adults each year in New York State.
In New York State, 16 and 17-year-olds are confined in adult prisons and jails where they are in grave danger. Children in adult jails and prisons face very high rates of sexual assault and rape, physical assaults, attacks with weapons, and can, in some facilities, be held in solitary confinement. Children in adult jails are 36 percent more likely to commit suicide than children in youth detention facilities.
Prosecuting kids as adults can increase crime, including violent crime. A 2007 study comparing youth charged in New York’s adult courts with youth charged with identical crimes in New Jersey’s juvenile courts found New York youth were 100% more likely to re-offend with a violent offense and 26% more likely to be re-incarcerated. When Connecticut moved the majority of the cases of 16- and 17-year-olds out of adult court, arrests plummeted, including for violent crime.
On March 23, 2016, we launched an online video campaign aimed at pressuring lawmakers to raise the age of criminal responsibility. The release of the videos, which range from 30 to 90 seconds in length, was timed to coincide with the intense budget discussions that were taking place in Albany as the April 1 deadline approached. Each video ended with a call to action asking New Yorkers to call the Governor, Flanagan and Heastie and urging them to keep the “raise the age” bill in the budget.
Among those featured in the videos are Akeem Browder, the brother of Kalief Browder, who, after being arrested as an adult at 16, was held at Rikers Island for three years, most of that time in solitary confinement, and subjected to abuse and starvation. Kalief attempted suicide several times while being held. He was never charged with a crime and was released in 2013. Kalief committed suicide in 2015. Among several others appearing in the videos supporting raising the age are Congresswoman Kathleen Rice, in 2005 the first woman elected District Attorney in the history of Long Island and sworn in to Congress earlier this year, and Assemblyman Mike Blake of the Bronx.
View the first of the videos here. All of the videos are on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Facing Time: Facing Future, a project of the Correctional Association of New York, is comprised of portraits, videos, and stories highlighting the experiences of those most directly impacted by New York’s practice of prosecuting children as adults.
The videos, portraits, and accompanying booklet in the Facing Time: Facing Future multimedia project were produced by the Correctional Association of New York in collaboration with the wonderful creative team of Emily Whitfield, Marshall Reese (videographer), and Harry Zernike (photographer and book designer). We would like to thank the Public Welfare Foundation for their support for Facing Time: Facing Future, and the Tow Foundation for their continuing commitment to this issue.
Taking Back Our Children, a 2013 folio edition of nine stories written by adolescents writing from jail about their experiences, is a joint project between the Juvenile Justice Project and Herstory Writers Project. Herstory, based on Long Island, works to transfer personal stories into narratives that inform and connect individual experiences with larger social issues. If you would like to obtain a copy of Taking Back Our Children, send your request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The CA is a lead member of Raise the Age NY , a campaign that supports raising the age of criminal responsibility for all children in New York to improve outcomes for children and public safety.
For more information about the Raise the Age NY campaign and to get involved with this critical issue, click here.