NY1: State Senate Agrees to Include Raising Age of Criminal Liability to 18 in Budget

NYAPRS Note: With Governor Cuomo and the Assembly supporting proposals to raise the age of criminal liability to 18 and the state Senate’s new willingness to discuss the issue, some hope has been raised for passage in this session. This has been one of NYAPRS major priorities…play stay tuned about what you can do to help.

State Senate Agrees to Include Raising Age of Criminal Liability to 18 in Budget
By Zack Fink NY1 March 13, 2017

One-house budget resolutions traditionally establish priorities for both the Senate and Assembly before a final budget is hammered out by the end of the month.

This year, for the first time, the Republican-controlled Senate has agreed to include raising the age of criminal liability in New York State to 18.

"We have to make sure that nonviolent offenses, as well as misdemeanors, are heard in family court for 16- and 17-year-olds," said Jeff Klein, the leader of the state Senate's Independent Democratic Conference. "We have to move toward rehabilitation, not incarceration."

New York and North Carolina are the only two states in the nation that currently try 16- and 17-year-olds as adults.

Governor Andrew Cuomo first proposed raising the age two years ago, but it fell short in the Senate. Now, Senate Republicans indicate they are willing to try and get it done.

"Well, the governor has proposed, as you know, and other legislative leaders have identified it as a priority, so we are obligated to discuss it. But I don't think you'll see much detail beyond a commitment to discussing it," said state Senator Patrick Gallivan of Erie County.

Republicans agreed to raise the age after pressure from members of the breakaway Independent Democratic Conference, or IDC, which has a power-sharing arrangement with Republicans in the Senate.

"We staked out a very clear position that we weren't going to vote on a budget, a final budget anyway, unless it includes Raise the Age," Klein said. "This issue is important. I'm glad we’re all talking about it."

…Mainline state Senate Democrats have called for raising the age and have warned against the IDC and Republicans crafting a version that is watered down or compromised.


Assembly Digs in on Court Jurisdiction in Raise the Age Debate
By Matthew Hamilton Albany Times Union March 14, 2017

In a Tuesday radio interview, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie did not waverfrom support of the Assembly’s proposal to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 18 years old, maintaining that primary jurisdiction for 16- and 17-year-old offenders should be family court, not a separate adolescent diversion court.

“We should not really be looking to come up with more ways to have a more than 14 and 15 but still less than 18 (years old) class because then we’re not raising the age of criminal responsibility to when you should be considered an adult,” he said on WCNY’s “The Capitol Pressroom.” “At 18 you can do things other than drink. You can vote, you can defend the country, you can have a drivers license, you can buy a pack of cigarettes. So why when they do something wrong, should they be treated like an adult?”

There is willingness to discuss the idea of raising the age at the Capitol. The two main sticking points heading into serious budget negotiations likely will bethe primary jurisdiction and the list of crimesthat will be tried in what courts.

Generally, the raise the age rhetoric has centered on the ideathat the policy would apply to non-violent youth offenders.

The Senate, which is controlled by Republicans who have a coalition with a band of Democrats who want raise the age passed,will include raise the age in its one-house budget, NY1 reported Monday.

But what exact detail Senate Republicans will outline is unclear.

“Well, the governor has proposed, as you know, and other legislative leaders have identified it as a priority, so we are obligated to discuss it,” Sen. Patrick Gallivan, R-Erie County, told NY1. “But I don’t think you’ll see much detail beyond a commitment to discussing it.”

In its one-house budget, the Assembly modifies Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed version of raise the age (see page 91 of the document here; see also Part J here for Cuomo’s proposal).



Political Interests in Albany Could Finally Align to ‘Raise The Age’ Of Criminal Responsibility

BY CHRISTINA VEIGA Chalkbeat March 16, 2017

New York State’s practice of charging all 16- and 17-year olds as adults in the criminal justice system could finally end this year, as both houses of the legislature and the governor are tentatively supporting a change.

The Republican-led Senate included a provision to support raising the age of criminal responsibility in its budget proposal that passed Wednesday. The Independent Democratic Conference, a group of eight lawmakers who collaborate with Republicans in the Senate, has rallied to “Raise the Age.”

New York is one of only two states that automatically treats 16- and 17-year olds as adults in the criminal justice system, according to Raise the Age, a coalition of community organizations. That means holding teens in adult jails after arrest, trying them in adult court and sending them to adult prisons if convicted — potentially leaving teens with a criminal record.

“There are hundreds of people involved in the campaign, spreading information. That helps us better understand why this is good not just for the young people, but for public safety as well,” said Naomi Post, executive director of the Children’s Defense Fund of New York state, one of the organizations leading the Raise the Age campaign. “I think the amplification of voices has really had an impact on making the issue more salient.”

The state Assembly, which passed its own budget proposal on Wednesday, has long been supportive of raising the age of criminal responsibility, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo has also included provisions to do so in previous years’ budget proposals.

But Tami Steckler, attorney-in-charge of the juvenile rights practice at the Legal Aid Society, isn’t ready todeclare victory. She said it’s important that the final bill include wide protections for young people — regardless of the crime they are charged with — including requirements that all teens be held in juvenile facilities and that their cases be handled under family court law.

“You can reduce recidivism and improve public safety by treating children as children, because that’s what works best,” Steckler said. “What happens now is meaningful because it’s really hard to get more later.”