Team of Social Service and Law Enforcement Experts Will Evaluate State and Local Efforts to Implement the Groundbreaking Raise the Age Law
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the members of New York State's Raise the Age Implementation Task Force. The Task Force, comprised of social service and law enforcement experts from both public and non-profit sectors, is charged with reviewing and evaluating the implementation of the historic Raise the Age Law at both the state and local levels.
"Raising the age of criminal responsibility is an essential pillar to social justice reform and critical in allowing New Yorkers the chance to reach their full potential," Governor Cuomo said. "This expert Task Force is a significant step forward in our efforts to end recidivism in this state, as they oversee the implementation and effectiveness of the Raise the Age Law in order to help men and women contributing to our society free themselves of non-violent criminal convictions."
As part of historic legislation championed by Governor Cuomo in 2017, New York State will raise the age of criminal responsibility in the state from 16 to 18 over the next two years. Specifically, the law will take effect for individuals who are 16 years old on October 1, 2018, and on October 1, 2019 for 17-year-olds. The Task Force will be responsible for not only monitoring the overall effectiveness of the law by reviewing the state's progress in implementing its major components, but also evaluating the effectiveness of the local adoption and compliance to the law.
To do this, the Task Force will convene working groups comprised of a broad base of stakeholders who can provide expert analysis and address particular subject matter areas that relate to the successful implementation of the legislation. The Task Force will be required to provide an initial report of their findings by August 1, 2019 regarding the first phase of implementation and an additional report one year later with respect to the second phase of implementation.
The Members of the Raise the Age Task Force are:
- Anthony Annucci, Acting Commissioner of the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision
- Hon. Michael Coccoma, Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for Courts Outside New York
- David Condliffe, Executive Director, Center for Community Alternatives
- RoAnn Destito, Commissioner of the Office of General Services
- Nancy Ginsburg, Esq., Director of Adolescent Intervention and Diversion Team of the Legal Aid Society
- Eric Gonzalez, District Attorney, Kings County District Attorney's Office
- Mike Green, Executive Deputy Commissioner of the Division of Criminal Justice Services
- Peter Kehoe, Executive Director, NYS Sheriffs' Association
- William Leahy, Director, NYS Office of Indigent Legal Services
- Robert Maccarone, Deputy Commissioner and Director of the Office of Probation and Correctional Alternatives at the Division of Criminal Justice Services
- Hon. Edwina G. Mendelson, Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for Justice Initiatives
- Sheila Poole, Acting Commissioner of the New York State Office of Children and Family Services
- Naomi Post, Executive Director, Children's Defense Fund-NY
- Allen Riley, Commissioner of the State Commission of Correction
- Todd Scheuermann, Unit Chief, of the New York State Division of Budget
Additionally, the Task Force will review the implementation and effectiveness of the law's record sealing provision by analyzing the number of individuals who have applied and been granted sealing, as well as the overall effectiveness of the law's sealing requirements.
This provision allows eligible individuals to petition the court to seal up to two misdemeanor convictions; one misdemeanor and one felony conviction; or one felony conviction. To be eligible, an individual must have no convictions on their record for at least 10 years and have no charges pending. Individuals who were incarcerated may not apply until a decade following their release date. Excluded from sealing are convictions for sex crimes or any offense requiring registration as a sex offender; child pornography; murder, manslaughter and other homicide charges; certain conspiracy charges; and any crime defined by law as a Class A or violent felony.
The seal applies to all public court records and those maintained by the state Division of Criminal Justice Services. The repository for New York's criminal history records; law enforcement records are excluded. Once sealed, convictions can only be provided under certain circumstances, including to state or federal law enforcement acting within the scope of their duties including for hiring purposes; and pistol permit licensing officials. Individuals and their attorneys also will have access to the information. Additional information is available here.
The Raise the Age law and the sealing provision are just two examples of the Governor's extensive work to improve the state's criminal justice system and reduce barriers faced by people with criminal convictions. This past year, the Governor's 2018 State of the State agenda included a sweeping, five-pronged reform package to overhaul the state's criminal justice system by reshaping New York's antiquated bail system, ensuring access to a speedy trial, improving the disclosure of evidence in the discovery process, transforming asset forfeiture procedures, and implementing new initiatives to help individuals transition from incarceration to their communities.
Prior to that, the Governor passed legislation requiring law enforcement to video-record custodial interrogations for serious offenses, allowed the use of photo arrays to identify witnesses to be admissible at trial and extended the landmark Hurrell-Harring settlement's indigent criminal defense reforms to the entire State, becoming the first State in the Nation to overhaul its public defense system in such a drastic manner.
In the time since Governor Cuomo took office, New York State has closed 24 prisons and juvenile detention centers—more than in any other period under one Governor in state history. The prison population has also decreased by more than 6,000 within that time. The Governor also established the Work for Success Initiative which has helped over 18,000 formerly incarcerated people find work upon their release. Additionally, Governor Cuomo formed the state's first Council on Community Re-Entry and Reintegration in 2014 to address obstacles formerly incarcerated people face upon re-entering society. Since its launch, the Council has helped spur a number of changes to improve re-entry ranging from adopting "Fair Chance Hiring" principles in state agencies to issuing guidance that forbids discrimination at New York-financed housing based on a conviction alone.