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Letter: Prison reform will help young people

The Suffolk County Jail in Riverhead is seen

The Suffolk County Jail in Riverhead is seen here on Feb, 2, 2006. Credit: Newsday / Daniel Goodrich

I’m writing to agree with Newsday’s editorial “Smarter thinking on incarceration” [Jan. 27].

As a pastor of Connecting for Purpose Ministries in Bellport, I work as a counselor within the criminal justice system.

New York has among the highest incarceration rates, with nearly 50,000 people ages 16 and 17 facing possible prosecution as adults for minor crimes; 75.3 percent are misdemeanors. Four out of five of these youths sentenced to prison are black or Latino.

The age of responsibility should be raised to 18. Also, I’m glad to see progress from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in closing 13 prisons, and I hope to see more closed.

Invest money in rebuilding the lives of our youth. Add psychological evaluations and rehabilitation programs to keep young adults out of prisons and to reduce recidivism.

The governor’s plan to spend $55 million on job training gives hope for a greater future and a fresh start back in the workplace.

We also need more mentoring and recovery coaching programs, as well as summer learning, to keep young people engaged and off the streets.

Michelle Raysor, Bellport


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