Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman Announces Proposed Raise the Age Legislation in his State of the Judiciary Address

Posted: February 16th, 2012 | by Yuval Sheer

On February 14, 2012, Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman announced that, within weeks, the legislature is scheduled to consider the proposed “Youth Court Act.” This law would raise the age of criminal jurisdiction from 16 to 18 for non-violent offenses in New York. Under the chief judge’s proposed legislation, special Youth Courts will be established in which adolescents, 16 and 17 years of age, will receive developmentally sensitive dispositions available under the Family Court Act. In making his announcement Judge Lippman noted:

“This approach puts first and foremost an emphasis on rehabilitation for adolescents, rather than incarceration. The present punitive approach turns children into hardened criminals and must be changed if we are to ensure a meaningful future for kids who find themselves in the throes of the justice system. Our children deserve nothing less, and there is across the political spectrum a growing consensus that now is the time to rethink juvenile justice in our state to improve the lives of adolescents who deserve a chance to be useful members of our society. I am grateful for the work of all involved in this effort and would particularly like to thank the Hon. Michael A. Corriero, Executive Director and Founder of the New York Center for Juvenile Justice, and Richard M. Aborn, President of the Citizens Crime Commission, for their invaluable assistance to the Sentencing Commission.”

Although Chief Judge Lippman’s proposal does not raise the age of criminal responsibility for all youth under 18 years of age, the New York Center for Juvenile Justice views the chief judge’s proposal as a promising preliminary step in that direction. By offering to raise the age of criminal responsibility for so many 16- and 17-year-olds who come into contact with the adult criminal court, the chief judge has ignited a robust and productive discussion of the long-term challenges facing the teenagers who come into contact with our system and who, up until the present, have uniformly been perceived and treated as adults.

Judge Lippman’s remarks can be viewed here.


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