Prosecuting children as adults might make some people feel better – but it’s not making New York any safer
NEW YORK IS ONE OF ONLY TWO STATES IN THE NATION that automatically prosecutes and incarcerates 16- and 17-year-olds as adults.
The vast majority of these young people were convicted of only non-violent misdemeanors, such as vandalism or shoplifting.
New York also prosecutes children as young as 13, if charged with certain serious offenses, as adults. These young people are detained in separate youth facilities until their 16th birthday, when they can be transferred to adult prison.
Children incarcerated as adults are in grave danger. They are physically and sexually abused during their incarceration at a significantly higher rate than their adult counterparts.
In addition, rates of recidivism and future violence skyrocket for young people incarcerated as adults.
The punitive nature of adult prison is harmful, unforgiving, and proven to increase the chance of recidivism for young people in the justice system. We have a responsibility to our youth to remove them from the detrimental adult system: our children deserve to be treated as children.
In order to ensure the safety of New York’s children and communities – and end this shameful use of taxpayer dollars – we must overhaul purely punitive, outmoded models of justice and invest in what works.
Did you know?
- In a study of New York and New Jersey youth charged with felonies, where in New York youth as young as 13 were prosecuted as adults and in NJ nearly all of the youth were prosecuted in juvenile court, found that New York youth “were 85% more likely to be re-arrested for violent crimes than those prosecuted in the New Jersey juvenile courts, and 44% more likely to be re-arrested for felony property crimes.”
- A national review of published scientific evidence by the Centers for Disease Control concluded that transfer to the adult criminal justice system typically increases rather than decreases rates of violence among youth.[ii]
- Studies show that community-based alternative-to-detention and alternative-to-incarceration programs effectively increase positive life outcomes and significantly decrease recidivism rates for children who enter the justice system.
[i] Juszkiewicz, J. (2007, October); To Punish A Few: Too Many Youth Caught in the Net of Adult Prosecution. Washington, D.C.: Campaign for Youth Justice citing Jeffrey Fagan, “The Comparative Advantage of Juvenile vs. Criminal court Sanctions on Recidivism Among Adolescent Felony Offenders,” Law and Policy , Vol. 18., Nos. 1& 2, January/April, 1996.
[ii] CDC. (2007 Nov.16). Effects on violence of laws and policies facilitating the transfer of youth from the juvenile to the adult justice system. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5609a1.htm.
The New York Times in this editorial today is saying what we at the CA have been reporting on for decades: without any any transparency and accountability, the abuse of people who are incarcerated will persist and those who are responsible will still act with impunity. Until accountability is the norm and not the exception, the abuse -- and in some cases, loss of life -- will continue.Read More
Outside the New State Office Building in Harlem on a hot summer day, prison reform advocates stand with NYC Quakers. They oppose solitary confinement and demand an end to the inhumane treatment of inmates. Right now about 5000 inmates in NY are in the shu. They are in solitary. Some are held for 23 to [...]Read More
Prison Monitoring Reports
Attica Correctional Facility, a 2,000-bed maximum security prison in western New York, continues to operate as a symbolic and real epicenter of state violence and abuse of incarcerated persons in the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) state prison system 43 years after the 1971 prison uprising and violent suppression by state authorities. The [...]Read More
Gabrielle Horowitz-Prisco, director of the Correctional Association's Juvenile Justice Project, testified before the New York State Legislature on the Governor’s proposed budget for 2013-2014.Read More