On Oct. 1, the first phase of a New York State law known as “Raise the Age” took effect, intending 16 -year-olds can no longer be arrested or tried as adults. A year from now, the law will extend to 17 -year-olds as well.
Authorities are just beginning to grapple with the next challenge: Where will these young offenders be residence?
New York’s Albany County, which encompasses the state capital region, is upgrading a facility in Colonie, N.Y ., not far from the county incarcerate, to accommodate the new class of youthful offenders.
Senior Investigator Shawn Noonan, the commanding officer of Professionals Standards for the Albany County Sheriff’s Office, calls it a “two-pronged approach”–and the first prong involves upgrading security.
He was of the view that the brand-new facility must take into account that some of the youths may have committed “serious misdemeanours, ” and need to be held securely to avoid hazards to others, even as it seeks to stimulate the facility “less institutionalized” in the hope of declining recidivism and furnishing distressed young people with an alternative to jail.
The Capital District Juvenile Secure Detention Facility, which primarily provides Albany, Schenectady, Saratoga, and Rensselaer districts, is one of merely eight fasten facilities in the commonwealth, which are the only organizations qualified to take in incarcerated 16 -year-olds and eventually 17 -year-olds.
New York used to be just one of two states that prosecuted 16 – and 17 -year-olds as adults. Simply North Carolina remains. In five states–Georgia, Michigan, Missouri, and Texas — 17 -year-olds are automatically prosecuted as adults.
Thirteen states–Alaska, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia–have no minimum age for prosecuting a child as an adult.
Under New York’s new statute, 16 -year-olds must be placed in specifies appropriate for their age, rather than in jail; those charged against non-violent crimes are to be diverted via community-based programs just like delinquents who are 15 and younger.
Sixteen-year-olds apprehended on serious charges will go to a boy part of criminal court and be placed in assure detention facilities for adolescents.
A 16 -year-old in New York now has several different tracks that he or she can follow, according to Noonan, who has been helping with several Raise the Age transitions, including upgrading the county’s teenager facility to house teen wrongdoers, as well as addressed with the transformation of plan for apprehending and charging them.
Direct to Family Court
Any 16 -year-old charged with a penal misdemeanor after Oct. 1 will be forwarded to Family Court, so that he or she will not have a permanent criminal record. If the boy is drawn over for a vehicle or traffic misdemeanor, or a violation, he will go to the neighbourhood court.
But if that 16 -year-old is charged with a felony, he’ll be sent to the newly founded Youth Court.
In Albany County, the Youth Court will be in the same building as Family Court and will be overseen by Family Court Judge Richard Rivera, said Noonan.
The 16 – and 17 -year-olds whose suits remain in Youth Court will be known as adolescent offenders; their counterparts aged 13 to 15, known as juvenile offenders, is likely to be tried in the Youth Court as well. According to the Raise the Age law, adult convicting will apply, but the magistrate must take the teen offender’s age into account when sentencing, and he or she is eligible for youthful-offender treatment.
In the court system, public champions will be trained to represent someone in the Youth Court, said Susan Bryant, the acting head for the New York State Defenders’ Association.
Public champions are also participating in local conversations on district plans for implementation of Raise the Age, which include addressing social services, probation, and transportation.
There is still concern about minors being detained as juveniles, she said.
“It’s certainly a step hopefully towards continued reform, ” she said. “I’m not sure if this is the best arrangement for it, but we will see how it goes.”
One debate is over whether all cases should begin in Family Court, said Bryant. She noted a magistrate may treat a 16 – or 17 -year-old more like young adults since they appear older.
Judicial education is needed, Bryant said, although the Youth Court judges being trained to work with teen offenders may also be service in Family Court.
New York has two dozen detention centers for juveniles 16 and younger, scattered across the country. Under the said law, New York has eight assure facilities for adolescent wrongdoers who are awaiting trial and for those convicted and sentenced to less than a year.
The goal is to avoid young people being held far away from their houses and households, said David Condliffe, executive director of the advocacy group Center for Community Alternatives and a member of the state’s Raise the Age task force.
Adding’ Trauma to Trauma’
“Imagine you’re 16 years and you find yourself hundreds of miles from residence … It adds trauma to trauma, ” said Condliffe.
Condliffe said incarceration has decreased in places like New York City, due to a places great importance on alternatives to incarceration, while incarceration has increased in rural parts of the state, an declaration are supported by data from the Vera Institute.
Sixteen- and eventually 17 -year-olds who face trial in Youth Court must now be held for trial in youth facilities if a magistrate determines there is a need for pre-trial detention. They can no longer scheduled to take place in district prisons as adults, but instead must be held in separate wings of procure boy facilities, or “specialized secure juvenile detention centre for older boy.”
Adolescent wrongdoers will be detained in county-operated facilities located in Buffalo and Rush, a suburb of Rochester, as well as in Onondaga, Albany, Westchester, and Nassau districts, is in accordance with Monica Mahaffey, a spokeswoman for the Office of Children and Family Services.
They may be held at such facilities not only during pre-trial detention, but also if their sentence is one year or less following conviction.
“OCFS and the State Commission on Correction certify and govern the detention centers. Counties control them, ” Mahaffey wrote in an email to The Enterprise. “Every county is not required to operate a facility, but every district must have a facility available for its use.”
She have also pointed out that these facilities are not to be located at district incarcerates, but can be at juvenile secure detention facilities if the offenders are separate from a very young juvenile delinquent and juvenile offenders.
Alex Wilson, associate counseling for the New York State Sheriff’s Association, was of the view that lately the association members have frequently discussed the issue of so few fasten facilities in the commonwealth, especially upstate.
But beyond transportation, there are concerns about having enough couches, or homes for the 16 -year-olds, Wilson said.
“It surely presents a problem, ” said Bryant. Currently, she said , no 16 -year-old has been sent to a fasten facility.
Bryant said a number of districts are considering alternatives to utilizing one of the eight procure facilities. For example, Tompkins County, in center New York on the edge of the Southern Tier, is considering creating a specialized fasten facility to be shared among districts in the Southern Tier, she said.
On Oct. 16, the Tompkins County Legislature authorized the district to enter into an agreement to form a neighbourhood growing corporation to create a new specialized secure detention facility.
In April, the Tompkins County joined 10 other counties in a coalition to explore Raise the Age issues, including where to house adolescent offenders.
“The problem is the law requires them to be in these specialized facilities, but the cost of every county having one only doesn’t necessarily making such a feel, ” Bryant said.
“But from the defense perspective we want our clients to be as close to home as is practicable, as closely connected to a lawyer as possible so that they are able to have regular communications and aren’t being transported in the different regions of the commonwealth for a court appearance.”
Wilson noted that there has been a lot of discussion on treating 16 -year-olds and eventually 17 -year-olds as teenagers rather than adults upon their seizure. He said that their detention will have to take place in special rooms separate from where adult wrongdoers are incarcerated upon their initial apprehend up until they are arraigned in court.
But Wilson said that the Raise the Age legislation is write with the presumption that most young delinquents will not be detained; he believes most are or will be released on their own recognizance and that probation officers and ankle monitors will be more often used than incarcerate time.
The goal of the legislation and the presumption is that, when someone is brought into the Youth Court, they will be released, Bryant said.
But discovering secure facilities for those who require it remains a hurdle.
“You’re trying to find balance, ” said McLaughlin, explaining that the district cannot have too few bunks or suffer as some facilities have from having too many empty couches after overbuilding.”
Juvenile detention in New York has been reduced by over half since 2010 due to diversion and prevention programs, said Mahaffey.
“Raise the Age provides an opportunity for the same strategies to be applied to 16 – and 17 -year-olds, ” she wrote in an email to The Enterprise.
This is a condensed and somewhat edited version of an section by H. Rose Schneider, a 2018 John Jay Rural Justice Reporting Fellow, written as part of her companionship job. The complete story, published in the Altamount Enterprise, can be viewed here. Readers’ commentaries are welcome.
Read more: thecrimereport.org