Correctional Association Executive Director Elijah Named Co-Chair of Governor’s Commission to Raise the Age

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From Correctional Association of New York:

April 9, 2014

Soffiyah Elijah, Executive Director
(212) 254-5700 ext. 305

New York: The Correctional Association of New York’s Executive Director Soffiyah Elijah was today named by Governor Cuomo as the Co-Chair of the New York State Commission on Youth, Public Safety and Justice. Announced in the Governor’s State of the State Address, the Commission is tasked with providing a blueprint for raising the age of criminal responsibility (the age at which youth are treated as adults in the justice system) and other reforms aimed at improving youth outcomes and public safety.

Ms. Elijah states: “I am honored to co-chair this important commission, and look forward to working with the Governor’s office, Co-Chair Jeremy Creelan, diverse stakeholders, and policymakers as we work together to bring about comprehensive youth justice reform, including raising the age in New York.”

New York is one of only two states in which 16- and 17-year-olds are automatically prosecuted in the adult criminal justice system. Over 45,000 16- and 17-year-old New Yorkers are arrested as adults each year. Those who are incarcerated are held in adult jails and prisons where they face grave risk of abuse and generally do not receive the kinds of rehabilitative services proven to reduce recidivism.

The Correctional Association has a legislative mandate to monitor New York’s prisons and has been actively focused on raising awareness about the issue. “As the only private, independent monitor of New York’s prisons, we know first-hand the problems faced by young people in the adult system,” Elijah states. “I am pleased to co-lead this collaborative effort to address this harm to youth and public safety.”

Ms. Elijah continues: “Creation of the Commission provides a unique opportunity to build consensus and develop a roadmap for providing youth with the services and supports that will ensure their success. Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, New York can stop playing catch-up and instead set the standard for a youth justice system that maximizes positive youth outcomes and public safety.”