SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Several Syracuse organizations are calling for the State of New York to stop prosecuting teenagers under the age of 18 as adults.
New York and North Carolina are the only states that define age 15 as the cutoff for juvenile jurisdiction. That means any person 16 and older can tried in the adult judicial system.
On Wednesday, opponents of that rule gathered in Syracuse to urge lawmakers to change the state's position. They say teenagers should be sentenced to juvenile facilities instead of prisons and they should have the opportunity to avoid criminal records that come with adult convictions.
"Young people are still developing, they're adolescents and they can get better services in the juvenile justice system and they will not have an adult record and as they turn their lives around, they won't face the kinds of horrendous barriers that people with criminal histories do," said Marsha Weissman, Center for community Alternatives Executive Director.
In 2010, more than 45,000 teenagers ages 16 and 17 were arrested in New York State. Of those arrests, 75 percent were for misdemeanors.