These portraits were commissioned by the Correctional Association of New York as part of a project to educate lawmakers and the public about the need to “Raise the Age” of incarceration in New York State, where 16 and 17-year-olds were prosecuted in the adult justice system. The effort was ultimately successful– In October of 2018 the age of criminal responsibility in New York was raised to18.
Young people housed in adult prisons and jails faced serious and elevated risks of sexual abuse, suicide, armed attacks, and emotional abuse. Children in solitary confinement spent up to 23 hours a day in a cramped cell, deprived of human contact. Extended isolation can be psychologically shattering for anyone, but it is especially harmful for developing adolescent minds. Prosecuting children as adults has also been shown to increase recidivism.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called the new law "an historic moment for criminal justice reform.”
The Correctional Association of New York is an independent non-profit organization that advocates for a more humane and effective criminal justice system and a more just and equitable society.