Increase in minimum age for adult prosecution urged

ROCHESTER — As part of the statewide "Raise the Age" campaign sponsored by The Children’s Defense Fund, local child advocates are calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to end the prosecution of 16- and 17-year-olds as adults.

New York and North Carolina are the only two states that prosecute 16- and 17-year-olds in adult courts and place them in prisons with adults if convicted, explained George Moses, executive director of North East Area Development, during an Oct. 9 press conference at the Center for Youth.

Such youths are subject to abuse and higher rates of recidivism, said Carlos Garcia, executive director of Partners in Restorative Initiatives.

"We can continue to pay hefty sums of money to incarcerate our young people or we can teach them to own up to their actions … and be successful," Garcia noted. "Our responsibility as a community is to teach youngsters what responsibility is, and we’re not doing it."

Rachel Pickering with The Children’s Agenda said Rochester’s announcement came on the heels of "Raise the Age" campaign launches in Syracuse and Albany. The governor can issue an executive order to raise the minimum age for adult prosecution, she explained.

They are asking Cuomo "to take this on as an issue and to be a champion for youth," she added.

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