Judge Corriero Appears Before The New York State Permanent Sentencing Commission

Posted: June 20th, 2011 | by Yuval Sheer

On June 10, 2011, Judge Corriero, together with the Honorable Monica Drinane, Supervising Judge Bronx County Family Court, and Kathleen R. DeCataldo, Esq., Executive Director of the New York State Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice for Children appeared before the New York State Permanent Sentencing Commission which is charged with conducting a comprehensive and ongoing evaluation of sentencing laws and practices and recommending reforms to improve the quality and effectiveness of statewide sentencing policy.

Judge Corriero pointed out that New York is fast becoming isolated in the manner in which it treats teenagers who violate the law. As a result of New York’s low age of criminal responsibility set at 16, and New York’s Juvenile Offender Law which permits prosecution of children as young as 13 as adults, New York is unnecessarily criminalizing many adolescents who can benefit from appropriate interventions, helping them to become constructive and productive members of the community.

In a call to reform this legal framework, Judge Corriero emphasized that the adult courts are ill-equipped to provide developmentally sensitive dispositions to minors under 18 years of age:

“Adult court judges are not statutorily authorized to sentence adolescent offenders (“juvenile offenders,” and 16- and 17-year-olds) to placement in a private voluntary agency or residential treatment center, even though one of those agencies might better serve the youth’s needs and further protect society. Moreover, because of this lack of statutory authority, programs that offer these services and that are willing to accept these children, have no mechanism of financial reimbursement from the court. Programs amenable to providing these services are required to secure their own funding in order to treat these adolescent offenders. For example, Criminal and Supreme Court judges cannot, under the present statutory scheme, sentence convicted adolescent offenders, as an authorized sentence, to placement in a program or residential setting that is specifically designed to provide developmentally sensitive services such as: mentoring, socialization skills, family counseling, mental health intervention, vocational and educational counseling. Judges who determine that such rehabilitative services are warranted in a given adolescent’s case are left to their own devices and improvisational skills, to craft a disposition that integrates participation in a program, pending a statutorily authorized sentence.”

Judge Corriero emphasized that New York’s juvenile justice scheme results in the over-criminalization of children, and that “a criminal record has a profound effect on an individual’s ability to obtain gainful employment, education, and public benefits. As a result, such a conviction may well prove an insurmountable barrier to economic viability….”

The New York Center for Juvenile Justice distributed to the Commission a recent report by the Campaign for Youth Justice titled “State Trends” which cataloged recent legislative victories removing youth from the adult criminal justice system.

Judge Corriero’s full statement is available below:


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