Connections: The "Raise the Age" debate

Mar 15, 2017

The New York State budget is due April 1, and one of the hot topics is “Raise the Age” legislation. New York prosecutes 16- and 17-year-old offenders as adults. For five years, the issue has divided parties in the state Senate. Those in favor of raising the age of criminal liability to 18 say youth offenders put in adult prisons are more likely to re-offend, experience mental health issues, and be physically harmed in prison. Opponents say raising the age promotes a culture of leniency regarding juvenile criminals.

We discuss both sides of the issue and the fate of “Raise the Age.” Our guests:

  • Jerry Ingram, minister at First Unitarian Church of Rochester, who was arrested when he was 17
  • Michael Tomb, member of Facing Race, Embracing Equity
  • Jon Greenbaum, organizer for Roc/ACTS

    Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that New York and North Carolina are the only states that prosecute 16- and 17-year-olds as adults. While they are the only states that regularly route 16-year-olds into adult courts and prisons, a total of seven states still try 17-year-olds as adults and in some cases imprison them with adult inmates. Other states try teenagers as adults only in cases involving extreme violence or other aggravating circumstances.New York will gradually shift 16- and 17-year-olds into family court and juvenile detention centers over the next two years.