County questions impact of raising the age of criminal responsibility

CHENANGO COUNTY – Debate over raising the age of criminal responsibility in New York State has some Chenango County officials questioning what financial implications the proposal would have if legislation is passed later this year.

The issue was addressed in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s “2015 Opportunities Agenda” on Wednesday. New York and North Carolina are the only two states in the country where 16 and 17-year-olds can still be prosecuted as adults.

According to Cuomo, any expectations that 16 and 17-year olds will be rehabilitated in prison and leave prison in better shape than they were are unrealistic.

“State prisons are no place for a 16-year-old,” said Cuomo.

A state-appointed pannel created in 2014 suggested raising the age of criminal responsibility in NY to 18 (though there are blurry lines when it comes to youth who are convicted of substantially heinous crimes). Cuomo said, “This year, the pannel came back and said let’s raise the age of criminal responsibility to get 16 and 17-year-olds out of adult prisons where they are being hurt, not helped. And let’s have a set of facilities and systems for 16 and 17-year olds.”

While there’s little debate among Chenango County officials over the decision to raise the criminal age of responsibility, it does generate questions about the impact it will have. County Attorney Allan Gordon explained the issue isn’t about what should be done, but about how it will be done.

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