The Youth Justice Research Collaborative (YJRC) is a collective developed in partnership with the CUNY Public Science Project, Youth Represent, Children’s Defense Fund-NY and the Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York to center the lives and conditions of those most impacted by Raise the Age, using participatory action research to join experts with direct experience of youth prosecution and incarceration with academics and advocates.

On April 10, 2017, after years of grassroots and community pressure, Governor Cuomo signed into law the “Raise the Age” (RTA) legislation. The law will be phased in so that the presumptive age of adult prosecution is raised to 17 effective 10/1/18 and then to 18 effective 10/1/19. This legislation is a critical victory. It reflects the growing legal and scientific consensus that youth should not be punished as adults, but rather held accountable in a justice system designed to address their unique developmental needs. Raise the Age has the potential to reduce racial disparities and improve outcomes for justice involved youth by shielding them from the lifelong consequences of adult criminal justice involvement, ultimately increasing public safety for all New Yorkers.

The new legislation also leaves an enormous amount of work to be done.

We are using a wide variety of data collection methods to study the implementation of the Raise the Age policy. Our methods — which include court observations, focus groups with young people directly impacted by Raise the Age, analyses of public data, and surveys of public defenders and social workers — are designed to maximize flexibility, to accommodate the exploratory nature of the project and the diverse experiences and interests of the intergenerational research team. These methods allow us to collaboratively explore a range of questions about youth experiences with Raise the Age.

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