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New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced the report and unanimous recommendations of the Commission on Youth, Public Safety & Justice, co-chaired by Jenner & Block Partner Jeremy M. Creelan and Soffiyah Elijah, executive director of the Correctional Association of New York State.
Created by the governor in April 2014, the commission was tasked with formulating an actionable plan to improve New York’s outdated juvenile justice laws, including the “Raise the Age” issue, and developing a comprehensive set of recommendations to make New York a national leader in effective youth justice policy.
In its report, the commission recommends changing how the justice system treats 16- and 17-year-old youths accused of a crime and calls for juvenile processing for all but serious crimes of violence; access to programs and services tailored to support rehabilitation for all minors under age 18; sentencing for all but the gravest crimes of violence be customized to youth rather than adult sentencing structures; opportunities to move beyond commission of one nonviolent crime as a youth; and removal of all minors from adult jails and prisons.
“These reforms will improve public safety and give young people a better opportunity to get back on the right track," Jeremy said.
Additional recommendations would eliminate the use of out-of-home detention and placement settings for youth who do not pose a risk to public safety, thus ensuring the juvenile justice system is more effective and wastes fewer public resources. The recommendations are carefully designed to preserve public safety by maintaining District Attorney control over serious crimes of violence; allowing for violent felony offenses given Youthful Offender status to be considered in sentencing if the youth continues to commit such offenses; and providing for the capacity to impose longer sentences for the most egregious crimes of violence. The commission estimates that, if implemented, these reforms would prevent between 1,500 and 2,400 crimes against people every five years across the state.
Please click here to see a video of the press conference.