Assemblyman Scott Gray (R-Watertown) joined his colleagues and district attorneys from around the state for a press conference on Thursday centered around reforming “Raise the Age” legislation enacted in the 2017 budget. Under “Raise the Age,” the age an individual can be prosecuted as an adult was moved from 16 to 18 years old. This has caused crimes committed by 16-and 17-year-olds to rise drastically as they fear little recourse from the family courts where their cases land. Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay is offering legislation to close this revolving door and subject 16-and 17-year-olds to criminal court when they commit the most heinous crimes.
According to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) 16-and 17-year-old offenders accounted for the following in 2021:
- 112 arrests for homicide
- 80 arrests for sex offenses
- 587 arrests for firearms/dangerous weapon offenses
- 691 arrests for robbery
- 213 arrests for burglary
- 20 arrests for making a terroristic threat, as well as more than 1,600 additional felony arrests
Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay’s (R,C-Pulaski) legislation to combat these statistics would do the following:
- Require any violent felony offense committed by an adolescent offender be maintained in Youth Part of Criminal Court, unless all parties agree to move the case to family court. The current violent felony provision is too narrow and omits several offenses like gang assault or criminal possession of a weapon.
- Include and define “circumstances” that would prevent a non-violent felony case from being moved to family court, should a district attorney prove one or more circumstances exist. The current “extraordinary circumstances” provision is too vague and is eliminated.
- Amend Criminal Procedure Law and the Family Court Act to ensure judges, prosecutors and defense counsel can access documents pertaining to arrests and juvenile delinquency proceedings.
- Require a victim of a crime committed by a person under the age of 18 be notified of the outcome of a case.
“We see this issue in all of our communities where repeat 16- and 17-year-old offenders evade justice,” said Gray. “Not only are these individuals free from criminal court but their records are sealed from family court judges, meaning even on a repeat offense they are treated as a first-time offender. I am proud to support Leader Barclay’s legislation that will return law and order to our communities and bring back peace of mind to crime victims as their assailants will once again face criminal convictions for their actions.”