On April 10, 2017, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed “Raise the Age” legislation into law, bringing New York in line with the rest of the nation in how juvenile offenders are treated by state judicial systems. (North Carolina is now the only state that treats 16- and 17-year-old defendants as adults.) The legislative battle over “Raise the Age” was a primary cause for the delay in adopting the state budget, reflecting the intensity which both advocates and legislators brought to the effort.
Under the new law, 16- and 17-year-old misdemeanor defendants will have their cases heard in Family Court, while non-violent (and certain violent) felony cases will go initially to a special Criminal Court “youth part,” and then be sent to Family Court after 30 days unless a prosecutor proves “extraordinary circumstances.” Over the next two and one-half years, youth offenders will no longer be held in adult prisons. The legislation is imperfect and complex, as is often the case when dealing with hard-fought issues, but is certainly a vast improvement over current conditions.
We at Reform Jewish Voice of New York State congratulate our many allies with whom we have worked to reach this point. This success comes after years of hard work — establishing relationships with our elected officials, building coalitions with other faith communities and advocates, and mobilizing thousands of people to take a stand.
Please join us for our Albany Advocacy Day on Monday, May 8, 2017, when we will have the opportunity to thank our legislators for their support of “Raise the Age” and advocate for our other priorities – reproductive rights, public education and voting rights and electoral reform. To sign up, click HERE.