Written by Rich Forestano Saturday, 31 August 2013 00:00
A local doctor was out in front at a rally on Tuesday, Aug. 20, supporting advocates fighting to change a very old law in New York State: the age to prosecute youngsters as adults.
Currently, among U.S. states, only New York and North Carolina prosecute children as adults starting at 16 years old. The Raise The Age Campaign, an advocacy group calling on the state to change the age, has garnered support from local officials to press Governor Andrew Cuomo to take action.
Dr. Ronald Feinstein, a pediatrician from the American Academy of Pediatrics and Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park, has worked with local and national authorities to help at-risk youth. Feinstein, a native Long Islander, was the medical director of the juvenile health system in Louisiana, before returning to New York in 2009. He has also worked with at-risk youth in Alabama.
While conventional wisdom considers one an adult when one hits the 17- or 18-year mark, Feinstein feels additional factors come into play.
“We really can’t put chronological ages on [adulthood],” he said. “I can’t tell you that a 17-year-old is an adult or a 23-year-old is an adult. It depends so much on their physical, cognitive, social growth and development. It’s important to be extremely careful to limiting those ages, 16 and 17, saying ‘everybody is an adult.’”
Feinstein plans to campaign with Raise The Age throughout the state, continuing the work he began in Louisiana.
“I personally experienced the rehabilitative programming of education and work experience that occurs within the juvenile justice system, [in Louisiana]” he said. “It’s similar to what I’m dealing with in the pediatric age group. I can’t say how much I support the focus on rehabilitation instead of a punitive measure that leads to recidivism.”
According to Raise The Age, the Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy reports some 50,000 youths ages 16 and 17 are arrested and tried as adults in criminal court each year—the vast majority for minor crimes (74.4 percent are misdemeanors).
Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice supports the concept broadly according to a spokesperson, as long as it follows the legislative process. She spoke Tuesday on the law’s effects on developing youth.
“The human, financial and public safety cost of this archaic system are staggering,” said Rice. “I am looking forward to working with incredibly diverse coalition of people and advocates behind us to do something about it.”
A study from the National Campaign to Reform State Juvenile Justice Systems says that around 80 percent of youth released from adult prisons re-offend, and they are more likely to commit more serious crimes.
“Each year, thousands of New York teens are arrested and prosecuted and punished as adults they have yet to become,” Rice said. “Regardless of the offense, they are automatically introduced to an adult justice system that only increases the likelihood of their one-day re-offending.”
Angelo Pinto, a Raise The Age Campaign organizer from the Correctional Association of New York, said children as young as 13 can be convicted of certain crimes as adults in the state. He’s focused on the process of a young mind witnessing the incarceration process and how it possibly damages them emotionally.
“What [the age law] means in New York State is that young children can be housed in adult jails,” said Pinto. “The harsh realities of what happens to youths that are housed in adult jails and facilities are mind-boggling. Physical violence, suicide or sexual violence and of course the trauma of going through incarceration.”
If a child must be incarcerated, New Hyde Park’s Feinstein says, “it’s much more important to be involved in permanent rehabilitation.”
Last Updated (Monday, 29 November 1999 19:00) Wednesday, 11 December 2013 00:00
Sewanhaka Central High School District voters rejected a $99.5 million bond on Wednesday, Dec. 4 that would have funded extensive repairs and upgrades to the district’s five high schools. District residents voted against the plan, 2,705-2,412.
Forty percent of the bond would have been covered by state aid. The bond would have cost every taxpayer $144.26 annually.
“There’s not a whole lot you can say at this point,” said Joan Romagnoli, the New Hyde Park-Garden City Park representative on the Sewanhaka school board. “I’m disappointed. The administration worked tirelessly. Their outreach in the community was solid.”
Last Updated (Wednesday, 04 December 2013 14:08) Saturday, 07 December 2013 00:00
The first-grade classes at Hillside Grade School recently held its Thanksgiving Feast. The students made “apple turkeys,” recited poetry, sang songs, and made butter for their corn muffins. During class, they learned about the first Thanksgiving and how children long ago lived.
Thursday, 05 December 2013 00:00
Students at Charles Water Karate & Fitness, located at 122 Hillside Avenue in Williston Park recently participated in the studios 33nd Black Belt Graduation.
“Our goal at Charles Water’s Karate & Fitness is to facilitate mental growth enabling our students to reach their highest potential as human beings,” says Grandmaster Charles Water owner and director of the school. “Our studio teaches students how to defend themselves responsibly while instilling self-confidence, self-discipline and respect for others.”
Thursday, 05 December 2013 00:00
The foundation for character building and success starts at home. The schools and role models that impact your child’s life assist in reinforcing the aspirations that you have for your child’s development and future.
Children learn this is Karatatot, a unique program offered by Charles Water Karate & Fitness, located at 122 Hillside Avenue in Williston Park. Karatatot is a combination of exercise and karate in a format specifically designed for children ages 4½ and up. In a fun filled and nurturing setting your children learn concentration, discipline, respect, as well as an understanding of self defense at his or her own level. Children learn child safety and stranger training. They are becoming better students at school and better listeners at home.