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Tuesday 7th of July 2020

Press Room

Some New York Prosecutors Expect a Tricky Year Ahead on Raise the Age

Thursday 18th of July 2019 | North America, United States
The Chronicle of Social Change
News

When Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) signed the juvenile justice law known as “Raise the Age” in April 2017, advocates celebrated that New York would finally catch up to other states moving 16- and 17-year-olds out of adult courts and lockups. But some prosecutors expressed concerns about the costs and public safety without opposing the bill entirely.

Now, six months into the law’s implementation, district attorneys from New York’s largest counties say they are improvising to navigate what they call a complex new court process without funding for new staff so far.

New York was the second-to-last state in the nation to raise the so-called age of juvenile jurisdiction over 16. Five states have raised the age in the last 12 years after a wave of tough-on-crime legislation in preceding decades pushed the youth population in adult jails and prisons up to nearly 15,000 in the late 1990s. New York, unlike some states that have raised the age, opted to originate all felony cases in new youth sections within the adult court, with opportunities for removal down to family court. The law went into effect for 16-year-olds last October, and will go into effect for 17-year-olds this October.

“Although the case counts have not been overwhelming, each case has required significantly more time due to new Youth Part procedures,” wrote Kaitlyn Munro, spokesperson from the office of John Flynn, Erie County district attorney, in an email to The Chronicle of Social Change, referring to new youth-specific courtrooms created within the adult court. “As a result, the Youth Part attorneys did not have the time to handle additional felony matters. That in turn increased the workload on other felony level assistant district attorneys.”

The spokesperson added that the office would “wait and see” how much extra work the 17-year-olds’ cases require before deciding whether to hire new attorneys, which may be eligible for state-funded reimbursement.

“Erie County has not yet received any reimbursement from the state, but we are looking into it,” Munro said.

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    Phone: 00 32 262 988 90. Fax: 00 32 262 988 99. oijj@oijj.org

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