Raise the Age: Criminal Justice Reform

TOP Raise the Age: Criminal Justice Reform

Raise the Age

Let’s improve how New York’s justice system treats young people.

Today, New York State is only one of two states that automatically processes, prosecutes and incarcerates 16- and 17-year-olds as adults.

Currently, young people are incarcerated with adults in local jails while awaiting trial, and then matriculated into the greater adult prison population if found guilty. However, 86% of these youth are accused or convicted of non-violent offenses.

Raising the age of criminal responsibility will reduce crime, recidivism and costs to the state. Youth processed as adults have 26% higher likelihood of reincarceration than youth processed as juveniles—in other words, when we process minors as adults, they are more likely to commit more crime. New York State spends $100 million annually to house PINS youth in detention and placement. Other states address needs of these youth—more effectively and at lower cost—through robust community-based services to help families.

Created by Governor Cuomo in April 2014, the Commission on Youth, Public Safety & Justice has formulated an actionable plan to improve New York’s outdated juvenile justice laws, including the “Raise the Age” issue, and developed a comprehensive set of recommendations to make New York a national leader in effective youth justice policy.

Join our efforts to Raise the Age, change how the justice system treats 16- and 17-year-old youths this legislative session, and set our young people on a path of opportunity.

Raise the Age

Law enforcement, local leaders and advocates express support for the Governor's plan to improve how New York's justice system treats young people.

The Plan: Raise the Age

Raise the age of Juvenile Jurisdiction to age 18

Process all 16- and 17-year-old youths accused of crimes as juveniles in all but serious crimes of violence

Support rehabilitation programs

Provide access to programs and services tailored to support rehabilitation for all minors under age 18

Customize sentencing to youth

Customize sentencing to youth for all but the gravest crimes of violence, rather than adult sentencing structures

The Plan: Youth Justice Reform

Provide opportunities for a “second chance”

Provide opportunities to move beyond commission of one nonviolent crime as a youth

Remove youth from adult facilities

Remove all minors from adult jails and prisons

Eliminate use of out-of-home detention

Eliminate use of out-of-home detention and placement settings for youth who do not pose a risk to public safety.

What People Are Saying

Families Together in New York State CEO

Paige Pierce

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I have dedicated my career to serving some of our most vulnerable citizens, connecting them with community-based supports, and advancing sound social welfare policies in response to family identified needs. We cannot stand by and continue to hear the many horrifying accounts of children falling through the cracks, many of which, have been the result of an interaction with our criminal justice system.

Paige Pierce

Albany County Sheriff

Craig Apple

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My colleagues in law enforcement and I know that these are critical reforms that will make New York a leader when it comes to criminal justice and public safety. Under the current systems, experiences in prison and collateral consequences after release make it more likely that young people will re-offend, and commit more serious crimes, in the future. It’s not good for youth and it’s not good for the broader public.

Craig Apple

Preparing Leaders of Tomorrow (PLOT) Co-Founder

Jim Saint German

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I was given an opportunity for rehabilitation because I was in a juvenile setting. I took advantage of that opportunity and reset my course. I am now a graduate student at New York University. My path, like so many others I know, would have been very different had I been sent to an adult facility.

Jim Saint German

New York City Police Officer and PLOT affiliate

Edwin Raymond

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As a member of law enforcement, we have a duty to protect the community. It is disheartening to send youth into the adult system knowing that they will likely come out worse than when I found them. Having grown up in this community, I know firsthand the difficult lives that youth face. I see myself in these young men and women. If we want communities to be safer, we need to give them the supports they need to turn their lives around.

Edwin Raymond

What Other People are Saying

What Other People are Saying

Progress