New Offender Category
Adolescent Offender (AO) is a new category created by the Raise the Age legislation. AOs are 16- or 17-years-olds that commit a felony-level crime. These individuals have their cases heard in the Youth Part of Criminal Court. If the judge determines there is a need for pre-trial detention, AOs will be held in the newly created “specialized secure juvenile detention facilities for older youth.”
Removal to Family Court
There is a presumption of removal to Family Court for AOs, which can be accomplished in two ways. First, if the AO committed a violent felony, he/she must pass a three-part test in order for the case to be removed to Family Court. Removal depends on whether the defendant used a firearm or deadly weapon, whether the offense was a sex crime, or the individual caused significant physical injury. If none of these, or other extraordinary, circumstances are present, the case will be processed in Family Court. Second, if the AO committed a non-violent felony, the District Attorney can prove extraordinary circumstances to prevent the removal of the case to Family Court within 30 days.
AOs in Family Court will be treated the same as current juvenile cases.
Probation Case Planning
AOs diverted to Family Court will be eligible for adjustment services through probation. These programs will be tailored to the specific needs of each individual. Furthermore, special rooms will be made available for questioning youth who have been arrested, similar to what is now available in Family Courts. Parental notification requirements will also be extended to include 16- and 17-year-olds.
Program Treatment Model
Youth rehabilitative services will operate under the Program Treatment Model. Each youth will have access to specialized therapeutic programs to develop cognitive skills. Academic transition plans will be developed with the AO student and the school psychologist to transition the student to education programs, vocational training, and/or employment opportunities. Also, substance abuse treatment will be offered to all youth who require it.
Re-Entry and Discharge Planning
The Department of Correction and Community Supervision, County Re-Entry Task Forces, and the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) will jointly administer discharge planning services. These services include family reintegration, housing assistance, mental health and medical care, employment support, and educational assistance.
Supervision and Treatment Services for Juveniles Program
Beginning on October 1, 2018, OCFS will expand eligibility for the Supervision and Treatment Services for Juveniles Program (STSJP) to include youth who are alleged to be or are convicted as AOs. The STSJP program covers the continuum of services needed throughout the criminal justice system, including prevention, intervention, alternatives to detention, alternatives to placement, and re-entry programming.
The Raise the Age legislation provides certain individuals previously convicted of a crime with the opportunity to have their criminal record sealed. If an individual remains crime free for 10 years, they can apply to have their record sealed. Individuals who were convicted of two or more felonies, a sex offense, violent felony, or other serious felonies will not be eligible to have their records sealed.
Counties and municipalities will have no share of the cost for Raise the Age-related expenses. The State will fully fund increases in local sheriff departments’ transportation costs resulting from Raise the Age.