February 21, 2017
Dear Senator Murphy,
New York is one of only two states in the country which has set the age of criminal responsibility at 16, thereby prosecuting all 16 and 17 year olds as adult. Research has overwhelmingly demonstrated that the incarceration of adolescents in adult jails and prisons have significant detrimental impacts on these individuals, including higher suicide rates, higher rates of sexual abuse, higher rates of recidivism, and long-term mental and emotional trauma. Furthermore, youth prosecuted as adults with the label of being a “felon” will forever impede their access to higher education, jobs and housing.
The Governor’s Commission on Youth, Public and Justice issued a comprehensive report in 2014 that recommended raising the age of criminal responsibility, in most cases, to 18 years. This would better reflect scientific research into brain development, recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court, which revealed that portions of our brains, including those governing impulse control, develop at the early to mid-20’s. Data shows that incarcerating our youth with hardened, adult criminals is cruel, costly and ineffective.
The Village Board of Trustees of the Village of Croton on Hudson urges you to support the “Raise the Age” legislation currently before the New York State legislature. The proposed legislation is supported by scientific research, evaluation of the state’s justice system, common sense, and morality. Ultimately, this policy will ensure that young people throughout our community are provided all possible opportunities to succeed as adults.
Village Board of Trustees, Village of Croton-on-Hudson, NY