ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — Public safety is still on the minds of many New Yorkers with decisions still to be made about bail reform as we approach the budget deadline. But there is another public safety law some say has been overlooked: Raise the Age which some lawmakers say needs to change. Raise the Age took effect in 2018 and changed the age a child can be prosecuted as an adult from 16 to 18 years old in criminal cases. Republican lawmakers want to change the law for those who commit violent felonies.
Sponsor of the bill Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay said his conference is not against public safety reform, “What we don’t like is the way Bail Reform and Raise The Age were passed. They were rammed through the legislature in the budget, with no input from DAs, no input from law enforcement and frankly, I don’t even know if they had input from public defenders.”
According to the state’s flowchart, when a 16 or 17-year-old commits a violent felony they will either be sent to family court or youth part. “I’m here to tell you that some things work, but a lot of it doesn’t,” said Saratoga County DA, Karen Heggen. She said the resources needed to redirect adolescent offenders are simply not there. Heggen pointed to the example of a minor who committed several offenses including breaking and entering, burglary, and holding someone at knifepoint. “As a 17-year-old, we attempted to make the case – once it went to youth part- that there were, in fact, extraordinary circumstances and that that case should continue in the criminal justice system in the adult realm of things,” she said. But that didn’t happen. Heggen says three days after his 18th birthday, the same person committed a similar offense.
Lawmakers are proposing the following changes:
- Any violent felonies by an adolescent be in youth criminal court
- Includes and defines “circumstances” that would prevent a non-violent felony case from being moved to family court
- Ensure that judges, prosecutors, and defense counsels can access documents
- And requires a victim of a crime committed by a minor to be notified of the case outcome
Our Capitol Correspondent, Amal Tlaige reached out to the Governor and leaders and both houses about the proposed changes but has not heard back.