In New York and North Carolina, 16 and 17 year old teens are automatically sent to adult criminal court for criminal offenses, including nonviolent charges.
Lawmakers in North Carolina are already working to raise the juvenile age to 18 and now New York is following suit.
Writing at Child Welfare Watch, Alec Hamilton explains:
The effort to keep nonviolent 16- and 17-year-olds out of adult court has moved to the state legislature, which is considering two new juvenile justice bills. One, based on a proposal by the state’s chief judge, would establish permanent youth courts that prevent those tried for nonviolent offenses from picking up permanent criminal records—but would have little impact for thousands of 16- and 17-year-olds charged each year with violent felonies.
The second would raise the age of criminal responsibility to 18 for all but those accused of the most serious offenses, sending them automatically through the juvenile justice system...
Legislative observers say the bill that is most likely to move forward is a compromise that reflects the desire of youth advocates, legislators and Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman to raise the age of adult criminal prosecutions to 18 for nonviolent offenses, but will not overload the Family Court with thousands of new cases. In fact, the new youth courts would be located in and managed by the adult Criminal Court system.
There are many factors to consider in raising the age of criminal responsibility to 18, including the safety of kids in adult prisons, the cost of trying teens as adults and the cost to society.
So, what do you think? Should New York raise the age of criminal responsibility?
Liz Wu is a Digital Accounts Manager at Prichard Communications, where she oversees digital outreach for Reclaiming Futures and edits Reclaiming Futures Every Day. Before joining the Prichard team, Liz established the West Coast communications presence for the New America Foundation, where she managed all media relations, event planning and social media outreach for their 6 domestic policy programs. Liz received a B.A. in both Peace and Conflict Studies and German from the University of California at Berkeley. She tweets from @LizSF.
Updated: February 08 2018