Policy Reform & Youth Leadership 2017 Priorities
Develop Youth Leadership
Young people have a meaningful role to play in shaping policy reforms but are too often left out of the conversation. Our Youth Reps initiative overcomes barriers to youth engagement by working closely with partner organizations and developing creative activities that spark youth participants’ interests while also building leadership skills.
Raise the Age of Criminal Responsibility
Youth Represent is at the forefront of the movement to raise the overall age of juvenile jurisdiction to eighteen, and to ensure that no youth who is sixteen or seventeen years old is placed in an adult jail or prison. Going beyond Raise the Age, we are also working to expand Youthful Offender eligibility to twenty-one and to allow for the retroactive sealing of criminal records.
Pass the In The Meantime Bill for Privacy & Fairness in State Courts
New York’s youthful offender law is undermined when eligible young people’s cases pend for months or years with all information accessible to the public. Details about youth and the charges they face often leak onto public websites, remaining available even after a case is sealed. Youth Represent is working to pass “In the Meantime” legislation that will keep young people’s criminal court activity private until the final disposition of their cases.
Promote Re-Entry for Public Housing Residents
The New York City Housing Authority routinely starts eviction proceedings when a household member is arrested—before there has been a conviction for any crime. Some families are allowed to avoid eviction only on the condition that they permanently exclude the arrested family member, even if that family member is just a teenager. Youth Represent is advocating to end the use of permanent exclusions for youth, expand due process protections, and create pathways to return home for people who have been excluded.
Stop Over-Criminalization of Youth
As crime fell over thirty years in New York City, the rate of misdemeanor arrests rose dramatically. African Americans and Latinos between the ages of sixteen and twenty-four bore the brunt of those arrests, resulting in severe collateral consequences, back-logged courts, and a wide gap in trust between police and communities of color. Youth Represent is working to decriminalize the lowest-level offenses, expand diversion opportunities, and increase accountability and transparency in the Summons Court process.