Prison Ministry Advisory Board: “It’s Time to Raise the Age – Now!”
A Message from our Diocesan Prison Ministry Advisory Board
Recently, it has been announced that legislation for raising the age threshold for where youthful offenders are prosecuted and punished as “adults”, rather than more properly being treated as “juvenile offenders”, will soon be considered by the New York State Legislature in Albany. We urge people concerned with this issue to make their views known to their State Legislators and to our Governor.
Below are excerpts from the most recent e-newsletter published by the New York State Council of Churches, and written by its Executive Director, the Rev. Peter Cook.
We recommend that those who care about this issue voice their support with their respective legislators and to Governor Cuomo through letters and phone calls. Please note that by entering your Zip Code into the website https://openstates.org/, you can obtain the names, addresses, e-mail addresses, and phone numbers for your legislators. Thank you, and do make your support heard.
Britton Hopkin – Chair Prison Ministry Advisory Board,
Episcopal Diocese of Rochester
From the New York State Council of Churches – March 1, 2017
“. . . Dear Colleagues,
. . . IT’S TIME TO RAISE THE AGE—NOW!
New York is one of only two states left in the country which still prosecutes and incarcerates 16 and 17 year-olds as adults.
This policy has the effect of placing young people in situations which do little to help with rehabilitation. There have been many instances where young people, with even minor charges, are languishing in adult jails.
There have been attempts in several legislatures to raise the age. All have failed. We hope that 2017 is the year that we will get a good bill passed which includes all kids. The Assembly has passed a pretty strong bill. The Senate, however, is considering a bill which will exclude a lot of youth from being treated as juveniles. Some politicians, from both parties, have staked out positions to still not raise the age as a way to prove to their constituents that they are tough on crime. The adult system, so the argument goes, renders a more appropriate punishment. This is a misguided position. The current policy dramatically increases the likelihood that more crimes will be committed because adult prisons are poorly suited for rehabilitation. Appropriate intervention and rehabilitation through the family court system significant lessens the likelihood that repeat offenses will occur.
We need New Yorkers of conscience to call for a strong bill to Raise the Age to be passed in this session. . . .
. . . Thanks for your passion and prophetic voice as we seek to live out our faith and care for each other in this state.
New York State Council of Churches . . .”
PS: Again, please call or write your New York State Legislators and let them know your interest in this important up-coming legislation. Log onto https://openstates.org/ to obtain contact information for your legislators.
Thank you for your support.