OSSINING, N.Y. -- Sens. David Carlucci (D-Rockland/Westchester) and Jeff Klein (D-Bronx/Westchester) recently held a roundtable discussion in Ossining on the push to craft legislation that would raise the age of criminal responsibility from 16 to 18.
The roundtable was keynoted by the Honorable Jonathan Lippman, former Chief Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals who has been an outspoken advocate on the issue.
In addition to Lippman, local elected officials, policy experts and community leaders who made various arguments in support of raising the age, joined Carlucci and Klein at the roundtable.
“New York is one of only two states in that nation that has failed to recognize what science and research have confirmed; 16- and 17-year-olds are still developing and cannot be prosecuted the same way as adults," said Carlucci. "By raising the age of criminal responsibility to 18, we can reduce the rate of recidivism in young adults to give more of them the chance they deserve to succeed in the future."
Carlucci added, "Bringing together advocates and experts will give us a plan to fight for the change that will benefit the entire state because it saves lives and saves money."
Klein said, “As we continue our work on raising the age of criminal responsibility in New York, it is important to have discussions with all stakeholders involved. That’s why earlier this month the Independent Democratic Conference held the first hearing dedicated solely to the topic."
"Today we continued these efforts with Judge Lippman, a long-time advocate, and partners who work with juveniles every day to hear their thoughts on the issue. Through our efforts I am confident we will develop thorough, well thought-out legislation to finally raise the age in New York," Klein added.
Lippman said, “Raising the age of criminal responsibility in New York is the single most important step that we can take to ensure the future well-being of our youth. We cannot continue to destroy the American Dream, for the next generation of New Yorkers, by treating children as adult criminals."
The roundtable came at a time when the Independent Democratic Conference has been at the forefront of developing legislation addressing the age of criminal responsibility in New York, according to a release from Klein's office.
In December, the conference released a report on the economic impact of Raise the Age and in early February held the first hearing dedicated solely to the issue, hearing nearly four hours of testimony.
Currently, New York is one of two states that treats 16- and 17-year-olds as adults within the criminal justice system, the release said.
“Developmental science shows clearly that adolescent brains are different than adult brains," said Westchester County Legislator Catherine Borgia. "Instead of wasting vital resources by locking up children with much older incarcerated people, it is imperative that New York State uses prevailing scientific understanding to rehabilitate those who fall into the criminal justice system at a young age."
"These children must be provided with adjudication, rehabilitation, and placement services that are age-appropriate. The mission of our corrections system is to rehabilitate and prepare for again becoming a productive member of society," Borgia concluded.