New York State Bar Association
President Glenn Lau-Kee today called on Governor Cuomo and
the state Legislature to enact a bill increasing the age of criminal
responsibility in New York from 16 to 18 years old.
time to raise the age of criminal responsibility. Research demonstrates that
16- and 17-year-old kids lack the maturity and judgment to understand the legal
consequences of their actions,” said Lau-Kee. “Children who are incarcerated in
adult prisons are more likely to commit crimes in the future.”
Commission on Youth, Public Safety and Justice properly highlighted this
important issue as one that must be addressed," Lau-Kee said.
Multiple bills have been recently introduced in the Legislature taking slightly
different approaches to achieve the same objective.
“With the end of the
legislative session only weeks away, the State Bar Association strongly urges
state leaders to resolve their differences and enact legislation to raise the
age of criminal responsibility to 18 years of age,” he added.
In New York State, children who are age 16
and over cannot be prosecuted as juveniles in Family Court. Instead, they are
prosecuted as adults in the criminal justice system. New York and North
Carolina are the only states that still criminally prosecute 16- and
17-year-olds in criminal court.
In 1962, the New York Family Court Act set
the age 16 as the threshold of adult criminal jurisdiction. This threshold was
deemed to be “tentative” and subject to further study.
Since the law was enacted, subsequent
research has shown that children under 18 lack the judgmental capacities of
adults. These children would benefit from social and educational services now
available only to children under age 16 whose cases are handled by Family Court
“Extending such services to 16- and
17-year-olds both recognizes the needs of children and ensures public safety by
reducing recidivism,” Lau-Kee said.
The 74,000-member New York
State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the
nation. It was founded in 1876.