Statement from Vera President Nicholas Turner in Support of Recommendations Issued by New York Governor Cuomo's Commission on Youth, Public Safety & Justice

The recommendations put forth today by the Governor’s Commission on Youth, Public Safety & Justice to raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction in New York from 16 to 18 are the first steps to creating non-punitive system responses that better serve the needs of youth, keep families together, and enhance community safety. At this age, young people are at a critical period in their cognitive development, so the nature of the state’s response to them after arrest can have lifelong consequences. We must ask ourselves: do we want to trap them in cycles of poverty and system involvement out of a misguided desire for retribution? Or should we consider the damage a punitive response can have on youth and instead, offer them much-needed services, treatment, and guidance?

I concur with the recommendations of the Commission that we can and must do more for young New Yorkers. We must not define them by the mistakes they’ve made, but rather how they respond when positioned to thrive. Every young person deserves the chance to find out what they’re capable of. The Vera Institute of Justice is proud to have supported the Commission in this process, and we thank Governor Cuomo and the members of the Commission for their tireless efforts.