Assemblyman Phil Ramos (D-Brentwood) announced he helped pass the 2017-18 state budget, which includes Raise the Age, a measure to help young people get their lives back on track after being charged with nonviolent offenses – a reform to our state’s criminal justice system that Ramos has tirelessly fought for.
“Having been in law enforcement for over 20 years, I’ve seen the disparity and unfair treatment of 16- and 17-year-olds, particularly those of color,” Assemblyman Ramos said. “We’ve heard the rhetoric that falsely portrays raising the age of criminal responsibility as protecting murderers and rapists - that fear campaign is completely irrational and misleading. We have a commitment to protect our citizens, which includes the rehabilitating of our youth; we can’t just lock them up and throw away the key.”
The measure raises the age of criminal responsibility from 16 to 18 years old for nonviolent offenses. It also establishes a youth part of criminal court for minors, which will handle certain high-level violent felony cases – like murder or rape – while low-level cases will go straight to Family Court. The youth court will be staffed by judges with specialized training to effectively deal with young people. The measure also prohibits the placement of anyone under the age of 18 in an adult jail or prison instead placing minors in specialized juvenile detention facilities.
New York was one of only two states – the other being North Carolina – to treat all 16- and 17-year-olds as adults in criminal court for all offenses, including petty, nonviolent crimes. The Assembly has championed raising the age for more than 12 years and Assemblyman Ramos has been at the forefront of this issue, serving as one of six lawmakers chosen to craft the Raise the Age measure.
“Enacting Raise the Age is long overdue, this monumental measure changes the injustice of prosecuting minors as adults and focuses on rehabilitation and curbing recidivism for juvenile offenders,” Ramos added.