Another day, another Raise the Age debate

“As state lawmakers voted on legislation extending the 2016-17 state budget through May 31 on Monday, debate over raising the age of criminal responsibility from 16 to 18 years old, a key issue in ongoing talks about a new spending plan, flared up again.

State Senate Republican Majority Leader John Flanagan said on the floor that the Senate is trying to find a way to help young people.

“But we’re also trying to find a way to protect victims,” he said. “And try and make sure that someone who’s a drunk driver, even if they’re 16, doesn’t get a kid-glove treatment for a heinous and egregious crime. We’re trying to make sure that someone who may murder a senior citizen doesn’t get a pass.”

Members of the Senate Republican Conference affirmed that position in statements released later in the afternoon.

“It is disappointing that the New York City-controlled Assembly Democrats are holding out on passing the final state budget because of their version of Raise the Age,” Sen. Cathy Young, a Cattaraugus County Republican who has been involved in negotiations on “Raise the Age,” said in a statement. “We agree that juveniles who commit serious crimes should be in separate secure facilities and not adult prisons, and that troubled youth should have counseling to get them on the straight and narrow. However, we never will agree to decriminalizing violent crimes including rape and murder, which is what the Assembly Democrats are pushing.”

Yet Heastie said shortly after the Senate session ended that there has “never been a contention about what happens to anyone who commits murder in this state.”

“Those type of statements are misleading because that’s not where the issues of contention are,” he said.

Heastie said concerns remain about certain crimes considered under penal law to be violent, such as someone tossing a brick through a car window that doesn’t actually injure someone.

“I just don’t think that if a kid foolishly throws a brick through a car window, should they have to go through a criminal court proceeding,” he said.”

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Another day, another Raise the Age debate