NYAPRS Note: Governor Cuomo announced a series of criminal justice reforms on Sunday that will be part of the proposed budget he will fully unveil on Wednesday. Billed as the “Right Priorities Initiative,” reforms are designed to prevent “disadvantaged young people from getting ensnared in the criminal justice system while also giving those convicted of crime opportunities to rehabilitate and contribute to society.”
Notable in the proposal is the Governor’s commitment to reintroduce legislation to “Raise the Age” of criminal culpability from 16 to 18. Only two states – New York and North Carolina – have not yet done this. NYAPRS strongly supports this priority, and has included it as part of our FY 2016-2017 policy agenda.
Cuomo Proposes Series Of Criminal Justice Reforms
By Patrick Lohmann Syracuse.com January 10, 2016
SYRACUSE, NY -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday announced a series of proposals that he hopes will cut costs and improve outcomes in the state's criminal justice system.
The announcement marks the 13th major proposal that will be contained in the governor's proposed budget, in addition to initiatives aimed at curbing poverty, increasing the minimum wage, upgrading airports and helping small businesses.
The series of proposed criminal justice reforms includes:
- $100 million to help along the "transformation" of failing schools into community schools ;
- $50 million toward the Urban Youth Jobs Program to help 10,000 more at-risk young people find jobs;
- The promotion of alternatives to incarceration aimed at rehabilitating offenders and curbing the "trend of mass incarceration";
- $7.5 toward the offering of college-level education programming in state prisons, with the help of the Manhattan district attorney; and
- A continued push to raise the age at which an offender can be considered for an adult sentence
In a news release, Cuomo's office said the reforms -- which Cuomo billed as the "Right Priorities initiative" -- are aimed at preventing disadvantaged young people from getting ensnared in the criminal justice system while also giving those convicted of crime opportunities to rehabilitate and contribute to society.
"For all the progress we have made, far too many of our young people end up trapped in our criminal justice system with no path out – and it's time that changed," Gov. Cuomo said in the news release. "It can't be that every door is closed except the revolving one back into prison. We must break this vicious cycle for the betterment and safety of our communities and countless families across the state."
The $100 million investment in schools builds on a 2013 initiative from the governor that invested $30 million to help develop more than 60 schools in high-poverty districts into "community schools", according to the news release, which are hubs for a range of services like health care, job preparation and counseling.
Another piece of the reform puzzle, Cuomo's office said, is connecting impoverished young people with jobs. The $50 million investment in the Urban Youth Jobs Program, which launched in 2012, will pave the way for 10,000 more job placements over last year, according to the news release. Cuomo also proposed an additional $5 million for job training for at-risk young people.
Keeping with helping young people avoid the criminal justice system, the governor said he will re-introduce legislation to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 16 to age 18, "so that children are not subject to adult criminal proceedings except for serious crimes," according to the news release.
Also on Sunday, the governor announced a proposal to give Syracuse and nine other impoverished Upstate New York cities half a million dollars apiece toward helping poor people within their city limits.