‘Raise the Age’ law tries 16-year-olds as juveniles

<p>Legislation to raise the age at which teenagers are housed in adult jails went into effect Monday.&nbsp;</p>

News 12 Staff

Oct 2, 2018, 12:09 AM

Updated 2,111 days ago

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Legislation to raise the age at which teenagers are housed in adult jails went into effect Monday.
Beginning Oct. 1, 16-year-old teenagers will no longer automatically be processed in the adult criminal justice system.
Violent felonies like sexual assault and homicides, however, will most likely remain in criminal court. These cases, however, make up about 1 percent of juvenile charges in New York each year.
The new Raise the Age law requires that criminal cases involving 16-year-olds will be considered juveniles and sent to Family Court.
Allison Lake of the Westchester Children's Association says putting teens in the same space as older, hardened criminals while their brains are still developing could negatively influence their behavior.
"To have a safer community, it makes sense to try and hold these young people accountable in an age appropriate manner,” she says.
According to the Campaign for Youth Justice, young people imprisoned as adults are five times more likely to be sexually assaulted than youth in juvenile facilities, and 36 times more likely to commit suicide.
Research shows teens actually respond better to intervention-style programs, like the Youth Shelter of Westchester.
"Being in a secure and supportive environment where they can get help with their school work, with anger management, with any mental health or substance abuse issues has really turned their life around,” says Lake.
Lake says that convicted teens can become productive members of society when surrounded by people their own age and professionals who understand them.
"For the first time, they're understanding and enjoying their school work, for the first time they're going out - they volunteer in nursing homes, in soup kitchens,” she says. “This is the first time they're having these experiences –  that they feel they have something right to offer and to give back to society.


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