March 9, 2015
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Launches Campaign Rallying Support to "Raise the Age" in New York

TOP Governor Cuomo Launches Campaign Rallying...

Unveils Raise the Age Website to Promote Proposal Day Before Advocates Rally at Capitol

Legislation Supported By Advocates, Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Experts Across New York

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Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today launched the Raise the Age campaign to rally support for his proposal to raise the age of criminal responsibility in New York. This state is one of only two in the nation that has no legal authority to treat 16- and 17-year olds as juveniles, resulting in hundreds of youth currently being housed in adult jails and prisons. The campaign's website, www.ny.gov/RaiseTheAge, provides key facts about this issue and over the next few weeks, the Governor and members of his cabinet will rally support for the proposal across the state. Tomorrow, on March 10, advocates will convene at the State Capitol in Albany to promote the effort and rally support for the Raise the Age campaign.

“Under New York’s current age of criminal responsibility, thousands of troubled kids are being relegated to the adult prison system every year, where they almost certainly face a future of violence and diminished opportunity. That must change,” Governor Cuomo said. “By raising the age, we can offer those misguided teenagers the kind of juvenile support services they need to turn their lives around and improve public safety by reducing the likelihood that they will commit crimes in the future. This policy will make a lifelong difference for young people in virtually every corner of our state while improving overall public safety.”

Today in New York, youth are incarcerated with the adult population in local jails while awaiting trial, and then matriculated into the greater adult prison population if found guilty. However, 86 percent of these youth are accused or convicted of non-violent offenses.

The Facts:
Youth housed in adult facilities are:

  • 5 times more likely to be sexually assaulted;
  • 2 times more likely to be injured by prison staff; and
  • 8 times more likely to commit suicide than their peers in juvenile facilities.

In addition, today:

  • Black and Hispanic youth make up 33% of 16- and 17-year olds, but comprise of 72% of all arrests and 77% of all felony arrests across New York State; and
  • Young men of color make up 82% of youth sentences to adult confinement.

By raising the age and implementing common-sense measures that help young offenders get back on track through means other than imprisonment, New York can reduce crime, recidivism and costs to the state. By keeping the law as-is, public safety is compromised because youth processed as adults have 26 percent higher likelihood of re-incarceration than youth processed as juveniles.

Further, New York spends significant resources confining youth not accused of committing any crime. More than $100 million is spent annually to house youth in detention and placement, even when they are not accused of committing any crime. Other states address needs of these youth more effectively and at a reduced cost through robust community based services, many of which are included in this proposal.

The Governor's Raise the Age proposal follows final recommendations from the Commission on Youth, Public Safety & Justice and include: raising the ages of juvenile jurisdiction for child and adult offenses, changes to regulations governing arrest and police custody procedure, expansion and changes to pre-trial diversion and court processing processes, plans to remove youth from adult jails and facilities, expanded services to assist offender re-entry to communities, and reforms that address the collateral consequences of juvenile and youthful offenses.

The Commission is comprised of members of the law enforcement community, criminal justice system and children's and civil rights advocates; its recommendations would reduce the number of crimes against people by 1,500 to 2,400 every five years and save taxpayer dollars.

The members of the Commission are:

Jeremy M. Creelan, Jenner & Block, Partner (Co-Chair)
Soffiyah Elijah, Correctional Association of New York, Executive Director (Co-Chair)
Juan Cartagena, Latino-Justice PRLDEF, President & General Counsel
Joel Copperman, CASES, CEO & President
Janet DiFiore, District Attorney, Westchester County
Elizabeth Glazer, New York City Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice, Director
Michael Hardy, National Action Network, Executive Vice President & General Counsel
Melanie Hartzog, Children's Defense Fund-New York, Executive Director
Steven Krokoff, Chief of Police, City of Albany
Joseph Mancini, Director of Probation, Schenectady County
Hon. Lawrence K. Marks, New York State Unified Court System, First Deputy Chief
Administrative Judge
Anthony J. Picente, Jr., County Executive, Oneida County
Allen Riley, Sheriff, Madison County
Elaine Spaull, Center for Youth, Executive Director, and Rochester City Council Member
Emily Tow Jackson, The Tow Foundation, Executive Director
Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. District Attorney, New York County

Raise the Age is part of a series of comprehensive criminal justice reform proposals, which also includes the Governor's seven-point justice agenda to restore confidence and trust in the justice system. More information about the Governor's criminal justice reform proposal can be found here.

Contact the Governor's Press Office
Contact the Governor's Press Office

NYC Press Office:  212.681.4640

Albany Press Office:  518.474.8418

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