There will be a renewed push this year to raise the age for criminal liability in New York State from 16 to 18. Zack Fink filed the following report.
At 16 years old, Lywan Reed was sentenced up to three years in prison for assaulting someone with a brick, an act he describes as self-defense. But that was just the beginning of his personal nightmare.
"Four months into my stay on Rikers Island, I was sent to Greene Correctional Facility," he said. "The place was crazy. I was terrified. The brutality was crazy, too."
Studies have show that juveniles do not have the same level of brain development as adults. But New York State determined that 16- and 17-year-olds should be treated as adults in the criminal justice system more than 100 years ago, when things were different.
"100 years ago, a 16-year-old was really an adult," said state Senator Diane Savino of Staten Island. "You were embarking on your life. Many of them were getting married. They were having children. They were working."
Now, members of the state's breakaway group of Democratic senators, the Indpendent Democratic Conference, or IDC, have promised a renewed push to raise the age in New York state of criminal liability from 16 to 18.
Raise the age legislation is actually not new in New York State. Governor Andrew Cuomo first proposed this two years ago. We asked what was different this time around that might get it passed."
"I don't want to toot our own horn, but we have been able to achieve a lot of things that have been bottled up for a long time. $15 minimum wage. Paid family leave, which we talked about since the beginning of time. This is something that is extremely important to me," said Jeff Klein, leader of the state Senate's Independent Democratic Conference.
The IDC plans on holding hearings when the new session begins next year,
Supporters of raise the age say it's also a matter of public safety.
"Kids who are hurting hurt other people. So when you go to prison and you are being brutalized by inmates, being brutalized by people who are supposed to be taking care of you, when you come out, you're hurting, and what are you going to do? You're going to hurt other people," said state Senator Jesse Hamilton of Brooklyn.
The new legislative session begins next week