No Deal Yet to Raise the Age Teens Can Be Tried as Adults

With less than two weeks before the legislative session ends in Albany, lawmakers are hopeful that they'll reach a deal to raise the age of when some teenagers are tried like adults. Zack Fink filed this report.

During a visit to a state prison last week, Governor Andrew Cuomo said he was still holding out hope state Senate Republicans and Assembly Democrats can reach a deal to stop prosecuting 16 and 17-year-olds as adults.

Right now, the two sides are far apart on what the cut-off age should be for violent and non-violent crime.

"My point is compromise, because there is no definite right and wrong. It's ideological. Compromise on the transfer. The level of seriousness between criminal and family," says Cuomo.

Republicans have proposed doing only part of what Cuomo is seeking, which would be moving 16 and 17-year-olds out of state prisons where they are more susceptible to being victimized. Under that plan, however, young people would still be prosecuted as adults.

Assembly Democrats want the whole package.

"Just building a prison is not acceptable. That's not fixing the problem. The reality is a young person deserves a second chance. If they made a mistake, that is should not be the reason for holding them back," says Assemblyman Michael Blake.

"It's better to have something than nothing. Get those children out of those facilities. For anybody not to want to do that is just plain wrong," says Senator Martin Golden.

Cuomo wants to move prosecutions against 16 and 17-year-olds into family court.

Senate Republicans argue that the family courts are already overburdened and cannot handle additional cases

"I just don't think it is really possible to come out with this whole series of recommendations to say ‘yes, we are going to do it,’ throw money at it and solve the problem. I think it's very complicated when we look at it," says Senator Patrick Gallivan.

When the budget passed in April lawmakers did appropriate $135 million for raise the age. If nothing passes, that money simply rolls over to next year. 

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