As the New York State Legislature begins its 240th legislative session, RJV remains committed to fighting for economic and criminal justice reform. This month, RJV was represented at several key events in New York, including the 27th Annual People’s State of the State rally and a press conference on a key criminal justice issue, called Raise the Age.
The People’s State of the State, which predates current New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, is a time for organizations across New York State to come together to kick off a new legislative session in Albany, but it is also an opportunity to discuss the many issues that will be addressed in the coming year. Barbara Zaron, immediate past co-chair, was there representing RJV, and expressed the organization’s dedication to economic justice:
“The goal of economic justice for all requires us to address the many issues we are discussing in the People’s State of the State message including hunger, housing, homelessness, healthcare, pay equity, living wages, quality public education, human and civil rights, and the interconnectedness between them. Our faith teachings require us not only to give to the poor, but to advocate on their behalf. We are here today—and throughout the year—to speak up, judge righteously, and champion the poor and the needy.”
RJV was also present at a Raise the Age press conference the day after, hoping to urge Governor Cuomo and state legislators to pass a bill that would raise the age at which youth can be charged as adults. New York is one of only two states in the country that currently prosecutes youth as adults when they turn 16 years of age, despite the science that suggests that placing these individuals in the adult criminal justice system doesn’t work for them and doesn’t work for public safety. Barbara Zaron was at this event as well, and expressed great concern on behalf of the reform Jewish community:
“Grounded in Jewish teachings about compassion, mercy, redemption and justice, the Reform Jewish Movement has long expressed concern about the juvenile justice system and called for humane treatment of juvenile offenders. It has addressed and spoken out on ‘the serious moral and social issues which develop out of the special legal status of juveniles’ with a particular eye toward the ‘constitutional rights and civil liberties of juveniles’ and alternatives to incarceration. Raise the Age is a necessary step towards ensuring a fairer juvenile/criminal justice system in New York.”