The Second Phase Removes 17-Year-Olds from the Adult Criminal Justice System as of Midnight on October 1
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the second phase of the Raise the Age law is in effect, creating a fairer and more equitable justice system by removing 17-year-olds who have committed criminal acts from automatically proceeding as adults in the criminal justice system. The change was effective midnight on October 1. Those youth will now be treated in age- and developmentally-appropriate ways and will receive needed services and treatment to avoid re-offending. The first phase of Raise the Age, implemented one year ago, similarly removed 16-year-olds from the adult criminal justice system. Raise the Age provides opportunities for diversion and community-based services for 16- and 17-year-old youth who can safely remain in their communities.
"Raise the Age is now fully implemented, righting the injustice of treating teenagers as adults and successfully meeting our youth justice policy objectives," Governor Cuomo said. "By fully implementing the second phase of Raise the Age, 16-year-old and now 17-year-old youth are required to receive the evidence-based services and treatment they need to prevent them from re-offending and to prepare those returning to the community to be successful and productive citizens."
"We raised the age of criminal responsibility to remove 16- and 17-year-olds from the adult criminal justice system and place them in settings with proper services and treatment," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "We are proud to champion this cause of ending the injustice of treating teenagers as adults. The second phase of the law will now include 17-year-olds to extend justice and fairness to those who are held before trial simply because they cannot make bail. We will continue to fight to ensure that all New Yorkers in all communities are given equal opportunities to live their lives to the fullest."
When the court orders pre-trial or pre-sentencing detention, youth are now housed in one of seven secure or six specialized secure detention facilities statewide instead of in adult jails. Youth sentenced to less than one year may also be placed in specialized secure detention.
Two Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) facilities have been adapted to house 16- and 17-year-old adolescent offenders with sentences longer than one year. The facilities provide services and programming specially designed for adolescent offenders.
Raise the Age also provides for former justice-involved individuals to have their records sealed if they have remained conviction-free for 10 years. Since this provision took effect in October of 2017, 1,013 individuals have successfully petitioned the courts to have their cases sealed, thus removing barriers to employment, housing and other opportunities. This provision does not apply to individuals sentenced for violent felony offenses, class A felonies, sex offenses or those with sex offender status.
The success of the first phase of the Raise the Age implementation would not have been possible without the work of a multi-agency team including the Office of Children and Family Services, Division of Criminal Justice Services, State Commission of Correction, DOCCS and the Division of the Budget. The team also worked closely with the Unified Court System and local stakeholders. OCFS partnered with the State Education Department to develop educational plans for youth in detention and placement. The multi-agency group will continue to do so for this second phase of implementation, working with localities to help them comply with the law, providing technical assistance, guidance and support throughout the state for county and local governments.
Earlier this year, the State Raise The Age Implementation Task Force, comprised of a broad base of stakeholders providing expertise and analysis required to assess implementation and readiness for the second implementation phase, issued a report on the first phase of the law's implementation. The Task Force found that Raise the Age has been successful in:
- Fulfilling youth justice policy objectives and assuring compliance with the legislation;
- Providing technical assistance and guidance throughout state, county and local governments;
- Securing appropriate funding to cover implementation costs; and
- Establishing robust monitoring of the law's impact on the state and local levels.
The Task Force has found that New York State is well prepared to implement the second phase of the law.
OCFS Commissioner Sheila J. Poole said, "Raise the Age is the capstone on a decade of juvenile justice transformation in New York State. We can now proudly say that our system is designed and resourced to provide supports and services for young people with the benefit of drawing upon adolescent brain research and national best practice standards for young people who touch the youth justice system in New York."
DOCCS Acting Commissioner Anthony J. Annucci said, "DOCCS is proud to be a part of the Governor's bold and progressive vision to overhaul the State's criminal justice system through his Raise the Age legislation. By ensuring 16- and 17-year-old adolescent offenders are given the appropriate housing, education and programs they need for successful reentry into their communities, we can help foster a safer, more just society for all."
DCJS Executive Deputy Commissioner Michael C. Green said, "Raise the Age is a groundbreaking law that has transformed the criminal justice system in New York, providing evaluation and meaningful support service to youth rather than convictions and incarceration. The successful implementation would not have been possible without the hard work and support of this administration, the multi-agency task force, as well as the practitioners including probation, police, social services, service providers and other stakeholders. We will continue to work together to ensure that this population of youth in the criminal justice system receive the services and programs they need to stop the cycle of recidivism."
Commission of Correction Chairman Allen Riley said, "The Commission of Correction's mission is to provide for a safe, stable and humane correctional system in New York State. As part of the implementation of Raise the Age, that mission extends to specialized secure juvenile detention facilities for youth under the age of 18. We will continue to monitor and oversee operations at these facilities to ensure that young offenders are housed in a safe and humane environment and that the Commission's regulations of these facilities are being adhered to."
Chief Judge Janet DiFiore said, "As the second phase of the Raise the Age legislation takes effect today, the New York State court system, working collaboratively with the State Office of Children and Family Services and our other partner agencies and stakeholders, is fully prepared to achieve the smooth implementation of this historic reform - which will provide our young people with age-appropriate rehabilitative services and help them on the path to productive, law-abiding lives."
Additional information about the Raise the Age law is available here.