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Children's Advocates Say Prison System Should Not Treat 16- and 17-Year-Olds as Adults

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Advocates for the Raise the Age juvenile justice campaign. (Jaleesa Baulkman for WNYC)

A coalition of civil rights groups and children's advocates are asking Albany to raise the age when young offenders are arrested and prosecuted as adults.

Every year nearly 50,000 children ages 16 and 17 in New York are charged and processed as adults. But advocates the Raise the Age campaign say that children who go into the adult system are more likely to be re-incarcerated.

Children ages 16 and 17 are treated as adults in the prison system and advocates for the Raise the Age campaign say this practice must stop.

 “We're encouraging the State of New York  to change its laws and ensure that  both court processes, services and incarceration options are appropriate for children," said Jennifer March-Joly, the executive director of Citizen's Committee for Children.

New York is the only state, other than North Carolina, that prosecutes children 16 and older as adults.

Twenty three-year-old Daryl Briggs, who was arrested for robbery at 16, said prosecuting  adolescents as adults can be psychologically detrimental. “Just being treated as an adult while I was 16, it was just scary,” he said. “It was uncomfortable to be snatched from my family and placed with all these adults...it was just weird.”

The New York State Department of Corrections says they have no comment on the campaign.

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