Statement of City Bar President John S. Kiernan on “Raising the Age” in Final New York State Budget

The New York City Bar Association applauds the Governor and Legislators for raising the age of criminal responsibility to 18 years old in New York State in this year’s Executive Budget. Public safety is not served by treating children as adults and for too long New York has lagged behind all but one state in the nation by automatically prosecuting youth at age 16 in the adult system. Research shows that transferring youth to the adult system, and housing youth in adult facilities, increases the chance of recidivism and is detrimental to public safety. The City Bar has made ‘raise the age’ a priority in its criminal justice reform agenda for several years, with a group of ten committees coming together to advocate for this important initiative. New York has moved forward to a smarter criminal justice policy by raising the age of criminal responsibility, allowing youth to receive community treatment instead of adult incarceration, and diverting low-risk youth from the justice system. This much-needed change will allow youth to avoid the lifetime consequences of adult convictions and participate as full members of their communities.