Gov. Andrew Cuomo Visits Harlem To Sign ‘Raise The Age’ Bill

HARLEM, NY — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo stopped in Harlem on Monday to sign “Raise the Age” legislation that would prevent 16- and 17-year-olds from automatically being processed as adults when arrested in New York State.

Cuomo was surrounded Monday by Harlem community leaders such as Charlie Rangel and Soffiyah Elijah of the Alliance of Families for Justice as he signed the bill into law at the NYC Mission Society on West 142nd Street near Malcolm X Boulevard.

Social justice advocated in New York have been fighting to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 18 for years, as the usually-progressive state lagged behind other states in the country. Under the new legislation people under the age of 18 will not be held in adult facilities starting October 1, 2018. The law will be fully implemented by Oct. 1, 2019, according to a press release from the governor’s office.

“Providing young people with age-appropriate facilities and rehabilitation will restore hope and promise and help them turn their lives around to build a better future for themselves, their families and for our great state,” Cuomo said in a statement.

Minors convicted as adults were 34 percent more likely to be re-arrested than minors processed in the youth justice system, according to studies cited by the governor’s office. The incarceration of minors also disproportionally affected people of color, according to the studies. Although black and latino youth account for 33 percent of the state’s 16- and 17-year-old population they account for 72 percent of arrests in that age range, according to the governor’s office.

Also present at the ceremony was Akeem Browder, the brother of Kalief Browder. Kalief Browder was held at Rikers Island for three years without a trial after he was accused of stealing a backpack at the age of 16. The case against Browder was dismissed in 2013 and he was able to return home, but was left mentally scarred by his experiences in Rikers Island. In 2015 Browder committed suicide.

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