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Cuomo: Stop Automatic Prosecution of 16 and 17 Year Olds

Written By Editor on 3/4/17 | 3/4/17

The following is a statement from Governor Cuomo:

New York is one of just two states in the nation that automatically prosecutes 16- and 17-year olds as adults, no matter the offense.

But the adult criminal justice system is no place for young people. Without age appropriate facilities, they face greater risk of assault, sexual violence and higher rates of suicide. And when young people are treated as adults by the criminal justice system, they are more likely to be rearrested and reincarcerated than those processed as juveniles.

By raising the age of adult criminal responsibility to 18, New York can reduce crime, lower recidivism rates, save taxpayer dollars, and provide young offenders with access to services to help get them back on track.

In New York, of the 27,000 teenagers arrested in 2015, approximately 86 percent were arrested for nonviolent crimes yet, nonetheless, they were processed through the adult criminal justice system. This issue also disproportionately affects young people of color: Black and Hispanic youth make up only 33% of the 16 and 17 year olds statewide but represent 72% of all arrests.

This injustice isn’t only unfair, it poses a serious public safety issue: Youth who are processed as adults have higher recidivism rates and often commit crimes more egregious than their original offense.

Under my proposal, young people will have access to specialized services that will reduce recidivism rates, lower youth crime rates, and provide significant public safety benefits for all New Yorkers -- including preventing up to 2, 400 crimes every five years.

So once again this year I am renewing my call to Raise The Age and to ensure that 16 and 17 year olds are treated as juveniles when they commit nonviolent crimes. That they receive the services and support they need in an age appropriate facility.

Some problems have no clear or proven solution. This one does. Recognize the distinction between youths and adults, and ensure that 16- and 17-year-olds who commit less serious crimes are processed as juveniles.

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