Criminal Justice Reform

Creating a stronger, fairer and more just system for all New Yorkers.

TOP Criminal Justice Reform

Ensuring Equal Justice for All

In New York, Governor Cuomo has taken bold actions to modernize the criminal justice system and ensure that it treats everyone fairly.

After persistent efforts by the Governor for years, in April 2017, New York finally righted a long standing injustice by raising the age of criminal responsibility from 16 to 18 years of age. This reform aligned New York with 48 other states and will ensure that youth receive the evidence-based treatment they need to lead productive lives.

The Governor has also spearheaded significant criminal justice reforms, including: strengthening domestic violence and human trafficking laws; requiring video recordings of custodial interrogations for serious offenses; enabling the use of photo identifications made by witnesses at trial; providing indigent legal services statewide; investing in alternatives to incarceration; supplying incarcerated individuals with greater educational opportunities; implementing solitary confinement reforms; creating the Community Re-Entry and Reintegration Council; and granting over 100 acts of clemency to juveniles.

Furthermore, since Governor Cuomo took office, New York has closed 24 adult and juvenile detention facilities - more than in any other period in state history - and the State's prison population has declined by nearly 10,000, achieving savings of $162 million per year. This has coincided with significant decreases in reported crime. In 2017, reported crime reached an all-time low since statewide reporting began in 1975.

Correcting an Injustice

Raise the Age is Approved in New York

Raising the Age of Criminal Responsibility

Ending a Decades-Long Injustice

With the passage of the FY 2018 State Budget, the age of criminal responsibility will be raised to 18 years of age, ensuring that minors who commit non-violent crimes are provided with age-appropriate services and opportunities to lead productive lives.

Specialized Juvenile Detention Facilities

Rather than being placed in adult jails and prisons, young people will be placed in specialized juvenile detention facilities certified by the State Office of Children and Family Services, in conjunction with the State Commission of Correction.

Phased-In Implementation

The Raise the Age legislation will take effect for 16-year-olds on October 1, 2018 and 17-year-olds on October 1, 2019.

Improving New York's Criminal Justice System

2017 Criminal Justice Reforms

These reforms, from raising the age of criminal responsibility to improving witness identification procedures, will help create a stronger, fairer and more just system for all.

Restoring the Integrity of our Criminal Justice System

Appointing a Special Prosecutor

In July 2015, Governor Cuomo appointed the NYS Attorney General as a special prosecutor in matters relating to the deaths of unarmed civilians caused by law enforcement officers.

Council on Community Re-Entry and Reintegration

The Council is tasked with identifying barriers formerly incarcerated people face and making recommendations for change, including issues ranging from employment to housing to health care.

Youth Justice Institute

Created in November of 2016, the Youth Justice Institute is designed to improve services for children, teens, and young adults in NY’s criminal justice system.

Expanding New York's DNA Databank

Preventing Crimes and Exonerating the Innocent

"All Crimes DNA" Expansion

New York was the first state in the nation to require the collection of DNA samples from anyone convicted of a felony or Penal Law misdemeanor. This measure dramatically expanded New York’s DNA database to better enable state and local law enforcement to convict the guilty and exonerate the innocent.

Access to DNA Testing for Certain Criminal Defendants

Defendants in certain criminal cases are allowed to obtain DNA testing prior to trial or, under appropriate circumstances, after conviction and following a plea, to demonstrate their innocence.

Access to Discovery for Certain Criminal Defendants After Trial

In limited circumstances, defendants are able to seek discovery of property and other materials to demonstrate their innocence after their conviction.

Creating a stronger, healthier and safer state for all New Yorkers

Pro Bono Clemency Program

In partnership with the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, NYS developed a training program for volunteer attorneys to assist incarcerated individuals with clemency petitions.

Child Victims Act

Governor Cuomo signed the Child Victims Act on February 14, 2019, ensuring those who abuse children are held accountable criminally and civilly.

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