Independent Democratic Conference Releases Report on Economic Impact of Raising the Age of Criminal Responsibility in New York
Senators Jeff Klein, Diane Savino, Jesse Hamilton, Tony Avella, David Carlucci, Senator-elect Marisol Alcantara, advocates, and teen offenders, released a new report on the economic impact of New York’s age of criminal responsibility.
“The impact that the current age of criminal responsibility has on 16- and 17-year-olds affects them for the rest of their lives. Whether it’s increasing the chance to advance academically or secure employment, it is clear that raising the age of responsibility will have a great societal benefit. The report issued by the Independent Democratic Conference shows that in addition to this societal benefit the state will see a fiscal benefit as well. This legislative session we will work with advocates and stakeholders to find a legislative solution to this issue,” said Senator Klein.
“Rectifying the way we deal with crimes committed by 16- and 17-year olds in New York is an important step forward in improving our criminal justice system. We have seen the unfortunate consequences of housing these teens with adult inmates and the effects it has on their future. By raising the age of criminal responsibility we can give these youths a chance to become productive and contributing members of society rather than just giving up on them,” said Senator Diane Savino.
“For far too long New York has been one of only two states where the age of criminal responsibility is 16-years-old. I have seen first hand in my community the effects that this has had on teens now and for their futures. I am confident that we will be able to implement these reforms and I look forward to working with the IDC to accomplish this goal,” said Senator Hamilton.
“New York is one of only two states in the country that treats 16- and 17-year-olds the same as fully developed adults in the criminal justice system. Unfortunately, this can have debilitating consequences for our state’s youth as they make non-violent mistakes that the juvenile system can easily address but isn’t because of the state’s archaic law. It is surprising that a state as progressive as ours, that is usually at the forefront of key social issues, has yet to understand this harsh reality. It is time for the Governor and State Legislature to address this and do right by our youth in raising the age,” said Senator Avella.
“In October of 2014, I hosted a hearing on New York State's Mental Health Supports and Services, titled, "Raising the Age." After hearing testimony from mental health professionals and families affected by mental illness, it was clear we need a new system that supports our youth, especially those with disabilities. New York needs to focus on rehabilitation for our youth, not incarceration. I proudly support raising the age and urge my colleagues in the State Legislature to work together on passing legislation that changes this unjust system of incarceration,” said Senator Carlucci.
“We cannot afford to give up on our teenagers who have made mistakes during their formative years. Holding 16- and 17-year-olds accountable for non-violent offenses the way we do adults makes little sense, and leaves no room for rehabilitation. This ruins their lives, their families lives and impacts our society. We must treat teens like teens and set them on a positive path, leading to them earning higher incomes in the future and becoming productive, contributing members of this state,” said Senator-elect Marisol Alcantara.
The Independent Democratic Conference’s report focused on the short and long term economic effects that raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction from 16 to 18 would have on New York.
A key finding was the savings to the state’s criminal justice system, due to the reduction in detention costs and the expenditure of resources such as transportation between correctional facilities and court hearings as well as probation and parole supervision post-release. The report found that that when fully annualized the state could see savings of up to $117.11 million annually in criminal justice system costs.
The opportunity at a second chance for these 16- and 17-year-olds was also found to have a significant economic impact for New York through additional tax revenue and a reduction in welfare payments, social support programs, and health care costs. As these youths will see a rise in expected lifetime earnings that could keep them off social support programs the state will see an economic benefit. The report found that avoided costs for public welfare, social welfare and health care would save the state $3.46 million annually while additional tax revenue from increased income would total $0.6 million annually.
After a successful 2016 legislative session which saw an increase in minimum wage and the adoption of paid family leave championed by the IDC, accomplishing raise the age has become a priority of the for the 2017 legislative session. The IDC plans to work in a bipartisan fashion to hold public hearings and engage with stakeholders to develop a comprehensive proposal to be released in the coming weeks.
“We can do better than prosecuting and incarcerating 16- and 17-year olds charged with non-violent crimes in the same manner as adults,” said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. “Young New Yorkers incarcerated in adult prisons are more likely to suffer abuse and assault, and more likely to reoffend when they get out. In the area of juvenile justice, it is long past time for New York to lead. I thank Senator Klein for his collaboration and commitment to establishing developmentally appropriate options to hold teen offenders accountable.”