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Final phase of Raise the Age Law to be implemented

September 30, 2019 11:14 PM

Beginning Tuesday, Oct. 1 the majority of cases involving 17-year-olds in New York State will be heard in family court. It’s part of the final phase of the “Raise the Age” law.

“These individuals are coming and being arraigned because the police are doing what they're supposed do and they're bringing them into family court where they are then allowed to go home with mom or with dad,” said Albany County District Attorney David Soares.

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Soares said cases involving 17-year-olds will either be in family court or for felony cases, they could be in the Youth Part of the Adult Criminal Court. In a report back in August by members of the Governor’s Raise the Age Implementation Task Force, it said the law has been successfully implemented. Meaning they can add 17-year-olds to the law now. According to the report, in Albany County from Jan. to June in 2018 there were 48 arrests involving 16-year-olds. The report shows in that same time frame in 2019 only 14 were arrested.

Soares said adding 17-year-olds to this process will make for a busy family court.

“You’re witnessing an environment that is not necessarily suited to handle crimes and violence having to take that on in addition to the reunification efforts that they try to engage in,” said Soares.

He added the difficult part with this law has been implementing it with no real guidelines and no additional funding from the state.

“Generally speaking when you have a new venture, a new proposition, a new program you tend not to do it if you're not capitalized just to do so,” explained Soares.

Soares did say counties were told to keep a log of expenses and then speak with the state about funding. However, Soares said it’s time to start a conversation on if this law is making a difference or are there other ways to invest in youth.

“If you're not investing in people, if you're not investing in community, then what you're doing is merely changing the entrance way to the system,” said Soares.

Credits

Emily De Vito

Copyright 2019 WNYT-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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