NYAPRS Note: NYS advocates for proposals to raise the age of criminal responsibility to age 18 are being encouraged by Senate GOP leader John Flanagan’s first time willingness to consider the issue, which already has the strong support of Governor Cuomo and the NYS Assembly.
Raise the Age is once again a major priority for NYAPRS this session and will be a big focus at this Tuesday’s NYAPRS Annual Albany Legislative Day.
Here are some bytes on this critically important issue:
- New York and North Carolina are the only two states that treat children as young as 16 years of age as adults in the criminal justice system.
- In New York State, anyone age 16 or older who commits a crime is sent to the adult criminal justice system, no matter the charge. Despite the fact that 74.4% of crimes committed by 16 and 17-year-olds are misdemeanors, all of these youth go through the adult system.
- The juvenile justice system offers an opportunity for rehabilitation while the adult criminal system focuses on punishment.
- Youth who are sent to the adult system re-offend at a higher rate, offend sooner, and commit more serious crimes than their counterparts in the juvenile justice system.
- Young men of color make up 82% of youth sentenced to adult confinement.
- Youth housed in adult facilities are 2x more likely to be injured, 5x more likely to be sexually assaulted and 8x more likely to complete suicide than their peers in juvenile facilities.
- Cost-savings gained by reducing expenses in the adult criminal justice system can pay for the enhanced community based programs that would be required.
Flanagan Says 'Raise The Age' Will Be Part of Budget Talks
By Nick Niedzwiadek Politico February 22, 2017
ALBANY — The Senate’s top Republican said Wednesday that a proposal to raise the age of criminal responsibility will be a big part of the coming budget talks.
Democrats and progressive criminal justice activists have been pushing the issue for years, as New York is one of only two states to try 16- and 17-year-olds as adults for nonviolent offenses. Previous attempts at passing such legislation have sputtered in the GOP-controlled state Senate, but the conference has been open to discussions this session.
“Sometimes these issues, they percolate in one year and don’t seem to get to the forefront. This is clearly going to be a very significant component of the budget,” Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan said of the "Raise the Age" proposal in a gaggle with reporters after a radio interview at the Capitol.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie last week said criminal justice reform would be “a pretty serious part” of budget discussions, but he would not say if he’d hold up the budget over it. Sen. Velmanette Montgomery, a Democrat who sponsors one proposal, has said she believes budget negotiations offer the most leverage, given Heastie and Gov. Andrew Cuomo's support for the proposal.
Flanagan conceded that the issue is “an extremely complicated area” for his members and said they are internally hashing out a plan they would bless.
“I think this is an issue of utmost importance to the people of the state of New York, and we have literally some very strong feelings and some members in our conference who have extraordinary knowledge and background,” he said.
The Independent Democratic Conference has made raising the age one of its legislative priorities for this session, and mainline Democrats have been pressuring the breakaway group to deliver.
The Senate and Assembly are preparing their budget proposals ahead of the April 1 deadline for a final agreement.