Last Sunday, New York legislators voted to raise the age of criminal responsibility. This comes as a part of a $153 million budget and will be worked onto the official books through October 2019. In 2018, the age will be raised to 17 and in 2019, it will be raised to 18. The decision means that convicts under the age of 18 will no longer be housed in adult facilities in the state.
According to Think Progress:
According to Raise the Age New York, a campaign that has pushed the state to change the age of criminal responsibility, the reform will impact approximately 28,000 16 and 17-year-olds who are arrested annually. In New York, more than 70 percent of underage arrestees are Black or Latino, as are 80 percent of those who are ultimately locked up.
Juvenile justice researchers have long documented the adverse consequences that come with criminalizing youth. The risk of sexual assault is five times higher in adult facilities than in juvenile facilities. To reduce the likelihood of abuse, in compliance with the Prison Rape Elimination Act, prison staff often throw youth into solitary confinement, which has disastrous psychological and physiological effects.
According to The Root’s Monique Judge, “North Carolina is the only other state where 16- and 17-year-old offenders are tried as adults regardless of their crime.”