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Juvenile Justice in New York

The New York Times OpEd

To the Editor:

Re “Crime and the Adolescent Brain” (editorial, March 12):

As Manhattan district attorney, I was proud to serve on Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s Commission on Youth, Public Safety and Justice, which reported findings similar to those included in your editorial.

The adult criminal justice system is not developmentally appropriate for teenagers. As compared with their peers in juvenile facilities, young New Yorkers incarcerated in adult prisons are more likely to suffer abuse and assault, and more likely to reoffend when they get out.

Most other states have raised their age of adult prosecution and instituted safer, more humane and ultimately more successful interventions for teenagers.

We can do better than prosecuting and incarcerating 16- ad 17-year-olds charged with nonviolent crimes on the same terms as adults. It is long past time for New York to lead in this area. Our legislators can look to four dozen other states to find that a safer and fairer system of juvenile justice is within reach.