Advocates continuing push to raise the age of criminal responsibility in NY

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Close to 1,000 social workers and students gathered in Albany to argue all 16 and 17-year old needs to be treated as children and not adults.

Standing between Washington Ave and State Street hundreds stood in front of the Capitol telling lawmakers it is time to raise the age of criminal responsibility.

“Because he didn’t know that he needed to put his tray in a certain position he was beaten,” Khalil Cumberbatch, served six years in New York Prison, said.

Cumberbatch says his time in a New York State prison for robbery showed him how rough the adult system can be and why the state needs to change.

“What we should do with that 16 and 17-year-old is put them in a system that is designed to actually address their needs that they will have at 16 and 17 and give them everything that they need adequately reintegrate into society.”

Shakira Maki is among the hundreds of social workers and area college students that agrees with Cumberbatch. Her cousin spent three years behind bars starting at 17 and says he is a different person today.

“I can see the effects that this has had on him. Being in there with those men and in that environment, it just didn’t do anything good, anything at all,” Maki said.

Inside the Capitol, Senate Republicans argue those that commit violent crimes should still be charged as adults and are discussing a plan that would do that, but are stuck deciding what is and is not a violent crime.

Cumberbatch and these advocates, however, say all 16 and 17 year-olds need rehabilitation, not incarceration regardless of the crime.

“The reality is that we’re talking about a very small segment of the population, so I’d say especially in those cases, we should be giving them access to the juvenile system that has everything that they need to adequately address their needs in a very specific way,” Cumberbatch said.

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