Assembly members Joe Borelli (R,C,I-South Shore) and Nicole Malliotakis (R,C,I-Brooklyn, Staten Island) today expressed strong opposition to legislation that would “Raise the Age” of criminal responsibility for youth. The bill would change the law to include those 16 and 17 years of age in the definitions of Juvenile Delinquent and Juvenile Offender. The new law would also require that 16- and 17-year-olds serve their sentences in Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) detention facilities rather than prisons.
“This week, two 16-year-old gang members violently raped a young girl on a golf course on Long Island,” said Borelli. “This bill would allow these Juvenile Offenders to receive reduced prison sentences and be placed in non-secure OCFS facilities until they turn 23. We aren’t just talking about young offenders smoking pot or stealing candy, we’re talking about serious, violent criminals. This is where the Assembly’s priorities seem to be in the last days of the 2015 session, and that’s unacceptable.”
“This legislation would allow teenagers who have been convicted of serious and violent crimes, such as rape and homicide, to receive more lenient sentences and be placed in facilities designed for juveniles who have committed minor crimes. These offenses are in no way comparable, and it would be ridiculous to treat them as such,” said Malliotakis.
Raise the Age would move the prosecution of 16- and 17-year-olds for most felonies and all misdemeanors from criminal courts to family courts, and in many instances, have those cases dealt with by probation departments. These Juvenile Delinquents would not be held criminally responsible for their crimes. Since Juvenile Delinquents are not convicted, their criminal records would be sealed and they would not have to provide a DNA sample or register under Megan’s Law if they committed a sex offense. Part of the justification for the bill is the argument that children’s brains do not fully develop until the age of 25.
“We don’t want to ruin people’s lives over minor mistakes they may make when they are 17-years-old, but this bill goes far beyond that notion and continues the recent trend of painting violent criminals as mere victims of society. The surest way for young people to avoid criminal prosecution and lengthy prison sentences is to steer away from committing violent crimes, and avoiding the drugs and gangs that always seem to accompany them,” concluded Borelli.