This is a letter I wrote to Mario Cuomo when they were considering laws to Raise the Age.
My name is Anwar Wade, and I am a sophomore at Nelson Mandela School for Social Justice. I am from Crown Heights, but currently, I live in East New York. The reason I care about this issue is that I can be accused of something and charged as an adult too. Just by one mistake, my whole life can be changed in a blink. I don’t think that any youth should be arrested with adults knowing that the adults in jail kill and rape.
What happened to Kalief Browder was really sad, and it hurts me to know that the city I live in is responsible for this. Kalief Browder’s story does not relate to me directly because I’ve never been prosecuted or in the system. But this situation does relate to me because the same way he was accused of stealing something anyone can also. I don’t understand why it has to be a Black youth to be in jail for so long for stealing a bag (even though he didn’t). All Black youth should be aware of their surroundings and be careful of what’s around them.
While we charge tens of thousands of people with crimes each year after they are identified in police lineups, research shows that eyewitnesses chose an innocent person roughly one-third of the time. Our memories can fail us because we’re frightened. They can be altered by the word choice of a detective. They can be corrupted by previously seeing someone’s image on a social media site.Picking out lying suspects from their body language is ineffective. And trying then to gain a confession by exaggerating the strength of the evidence and playing down the seriousness of the offense can encourage people to admit to terrible things they didn’t do.