| NEW YORK, March 31
NEW YORK, March 31 The New York State Senate
could vote as early as Friday night on whether to stop
automatically prosecuting and imprisoning offenders as young as
16 years old as adults.
If passed, the "raise the age" measure would increase the
age of adult criminal responsibility to 18, eliminating New York
as one of only two U.S. states still trying 16- and 17-year-olds
as adults regardless of the crime.
North Carolina, the other holdout, is also considering
measures to raise the age of criminal responsibility.
Republican and Democratic senators clashed on Friday over
the measure, which has been proposed as part of the state's $152
billion budget. Some Republicans proposed separating it from the
rest of the budget, while many Democrats said they would only
pass a budget if it included the measure.
"We will not vote on the budget without raise the age,"
Democratic Senator Velmanette Montgomery said in a statement.
"Our children deserve more than a slogan. They deserve
It was not immediately clear which details they disagreed
on, and the latest version of the measure has not been made
Under one recent proposal, juveniles accused of misdemeanors
and nonviolent felonies would be tried in family court, while
those charged with more serious crimes would go to a special
criminal court for youths. Juveniles would also be barred from
adult jails and prisons.
Critics of the proposal say it could threaten public safety.
Ulster County District Attorney Holley Carnright said this
week it would make it harder to prosecute violent gang members,
many of whom are under 18. The "raise the age" initiative would
also make it more difficult to interview underage witnesses of
crimes, Carnright said.
The effort is part of a larger trend to safeguard juvenile
In January 2015, former President Barack Obama banned
solitary confinement for juveniles in federal prisons.
Announcing the change, Obama cited the case of Kalief Browder, a
16-year-old held in solitary confinement for nearly two years at
New York's troubled Riker's Island penitentiary.
Browder, who was wrongly arrested on suspicion of stealing a
backpack, attempted suicide multiple times while imprisoned. He
took his own life after being released.
Riker's Island officials last year said they would stop
using solitary confinement to punish 16- and 17-year-olds.
(Additional reporting by Hilary Russ; Ediring by Daniel Wallis
and James Dalgleish)