Assemblyman Jeff Gallahan (R,C-Manchester) attended a press conference alongside Assemblymembers, Senators and local district attorneys to support the call to repeal “Raise the Age” (RTA) legislation that went into effect across New York state in 2018. RTA was designed to keep 16- and 17-year-olds arrested for violent felonies from facing felony convictions by keeping their cases in family court. There are several issues that have stemmed from this removal to family court that challenge judicial discretion, concern law enforcement and worry parents in New York communities.
“What is unfolding in our state’s criminal justice system is very troubling,” said Gallahan. “Raise the Age is allowing young, repeat offenders to come and go from family court rather than holding them accountable in the Youth-Part of Superior Court.”
Recent RTA statistics from the Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) show that in 2021 alone, many 16- and 17-year-old adolescent offenders were arrested for felonies ranging from robbery and burglary to sex offenses and homicide, but a mere 9 percent of them were actually convicted of a felony. Furthermore, in the same year, about 83 percent of 16- and 17-year-olds actually charged with felonies were simply removed to family court where their records are sealed from criminal court judges, allowing many to be perpetually treated as first-time offenders after arrest.
“Raise the Age is not bringing justice to crime victims and their families. If a store clerk is robbed at gunpoint by a teenager, their life is still in danger and a serious crime is still being committed. We must repeal this disastrous legislation and protect New York communities by instilling set, strict punishments for anyone who commits a felony, regardless of their age. If we don’t, the message we’re sending is this: as long as you’re young, your crime doesn’t count,” concluded Gallahan.