New state ‘Raise the Age’ bill that increases age of criminal responsibility will not fully kick in for two years

The “Raise the Age” bill that increases the age of criminal responsibility will not fully kick in for another two years.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the bill into law earlier this week.

The new measures will be phased in over time, raising the age of juvenile delinquency from age 16- to 17-years-old beginning on October 1, 2018, and subsequently raising the age of criminal responsibility to 18-years-old on October 1, 2019, according to Cuomo’s office.

Those who have been crime free for 10 years after serving a sentence will be able to apply for the sealing of previous criminal convictions.

Young people will also no longer be permitted to be housed in adult facilities or jails.

Cuomo’s office says the bill ensures “that young people in New York who commit non-violent crimes receive the intervention and evidence-based treatment they need.”

New York was previously one of only two states in the nation that automatically processed all 16- and 17-year-olds as adults in the criminal justice system, no matter their offense.

“Without age-appropriate facilities and programs, teenagers face a greater risk of being involved in a significant assault, being a victim of sexual violence and committing suicide, with juveniles who are confined in adult facilities five times more likely than the general population to commit suicide,” according to a prepared statement from Cuomo’s office. “Youth who are processed as adults have higher recidivism rates than those processed as juveniles, and young people who are transferred to the adult criminal justice system are 34 percent more likely to be re-arrested for violent and other crimes than youth retained in the youth justice system. It is estimated that raising the age of criminal responsibility will prevent between 1,500 and 2,400 crimes every five years.

“Incarceration of 16- and 17-year-olds falls disproportionately on youth of color. Black and Hispanic youth make up 33 percent of 16- and 17-year-old youth statewide, but 72 percent of all arrests. Of the teenagers who commit crimes, a vast majority of them are non-violent.”

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