Sara Foss’ March 9 column, [“It’s time to raise the age,”] supporting legislation to raise New York’s age of criminal responsibility from 16 to 18 expresses opinions on a familiar subject that warrants prompt attention.
I moved to New York from North Carolina where I had been involved in a similar legislative advocacy movement to raise that state’s age of criminal responsibility. North Carolina and New York are the only states left in America whose criminal responsibility age remains at 16.
We in North Carolina hit many of the road blocks in the Legislature that I’m sure advocates here face due to public fear about crime and the easy sell of “get tough on crime approaches.” I concur with Ms. Foss’ conclusions and add that credible research also indicates that juvenile court intervention with an emphasis on treatment and rehabilitation approaches for 16- and 17-year-olds caught up in the criminal justice system result in better outcomes for the children than if they were adjudicated in adult court.
Also notable is the fact that recidivism rates for this population are lower in states that place criminal responsibility at 18. Most children caught up in the justice system have been neglected or abused and have serious learning and emotional problems that can better be addressed in the juvenile system paving a way for the children to become productive citizens and enhance the safety of our communities.