Dispatches from the fight against homelessness and AIDS
Posted by Elizabeth Koke , March 31, 2017
Guest post by Jillian Faison, Housing Works’ Director of New York State Governmental Affairs
This weekend organizers and community members from Housing Works, Fourth Family Inc., Citizen Action, and Youth Represent gathered in the Capitol during the annual Somos el Futuro conference to express their support for Speaker Heastie’s “raise the age” proposal, which would raise the age of criminal responsibility to eighteen.
50 of us marched through the concourse but as we chanted, and we were joined by many of the people attending the conference in our cry “What do we want? RAISE THE AGE! And When do we want it? NOW!” Our group marched to the Speaker Heastie’s open house where he came and addressed our group. He told us that raise the age was a top priority and that he was facing stubborn opposition in the Senate. He was excited to see all the of young people in our group ages 8-25. “You are putting a face on this,” he said.
The community will not take no for an answer on this issue for another year. We in the advocacy community want to make sure that it not only gets done, but that it is implemented in the most expansive way possible. We cannot leave kids behind.
In my previous work as a juvenile prosecutor, I was able to work with the child protective system, school, family, probation department and other CBOs to craft reasonable outcomes for kids. The kids of our community deserve a system made for their needs, the crime and punishment adult system is no place for them. In addition to raising the age, it is crucial to increase youth programs as Senator Velmanette Montgomery has been fighting for. These programs keep kids engaged and excited about their future. How else can we expect success? What do we want from the next generation if not to be intellectually stimulated; socially and environmentally conscious; innovative and ambitious compassionate leaders. To accomplish this, we need to fund our public schools and provide as much enrichment opportunities for kids as we can.
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