Syracuse community and religious organizations announced Wednesday that they are joining a growing movement calling on New York to â??Raise the Age.â??
They want to emphasize the impact treating children as adults in the legal system has on public safety and youth across Onondaga County and Central New York.
Other than North Carolina, New York is the only state that automatically treats children 16 and older as adults in the criminal justice system, often ending up in adult prisons.
Marsha Weissman, Executive Director of the Center for Community Alternatives, says, â??Research and program evaluation shows that providing young people with developmentally-appropriate interventions leads to better outcomes for children both immediately and in the long term.â??
According to the group, putting children into adult facilities, where they are more likely to be victims of violence and denied proper treatment, often leads to a higher likelihood of those children to commit new crimes when they are released more often than those kept within the youth justice system.
In 2010 alone, there were 1,010 Onondaga County youth ages 16 and 17 arrested and majority of those arrests were for non-violent offenses or misdemeanors.
The group says that research into brain development shows that adolescents are in fact children and that the human brain is not fully formed until the age of 25.
The ongoing development of their brains makes their behavior and character highly receptive to change and they are more likely to grow out of negative behavior.
For more information about the campaign, visit www.raisetheageny.com.