Cuomo calls for raising the age of criminal responsibility

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ALBANY—New York state should stop sending 16- and 17-year olds to adult prison, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in his State of the State address Wednesday.

New York is just one of two states that automatically tries older youths as adults.

Cuomo said he will create a Commission on Youth, Public Safety and Justice to study raising the age of adult criminal responsibility in the state while keeping communities safe from repeat offenders.

In 2012, almost 40,000 youths were tried as adults in New York State, and 2,700 were sent to adult jail or prison, according to the governor’s office.

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“Our juvenile justice laws are outdated,” Cuomo said in the speech.

Cuomo said he expects the commission to submit a plan to improve the juvenile justice system by the end of the year.

Paige Pierce, executive director of Families Together in New York State, an advocacy group for parents of children with emotional problems, wasn’t surprised to see Cuomo address the issue.

“We know he’s been about progressive reform for the past three years," said Pierce, "so we’re thrilled he’s recognized the importance of this."

The Assembly held a hearing on the age of criminal responsibility. Members were supportive, but skeptical of what the Senate might do.