New York Judge Calls for Major Reforms in State’s Juvenile Justice System

New York’s top judge is calling on the state to break with a long-held practice of trying all 16- and 17-year olds as adults and instead to seek ways to rehabilitate them. Judge Jonathan Lippman, the chief of the state court of appeals, wants 16- and 17-year-olds accused of less serious crimes to be transferred to family courts. It is a move that would require a reorganization of the state’s juvenile justice system and would have to be approved by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, and the state Legislature. While the state Assembly is controlled by Democrats, the Senate is majority Republican. Democratic lawmakers in New York have been generally supportive of reforming the measure in the past, while Republicans have for the most part opposed it.

New York Governor calls for Spending less on Prisons, More on Prevention

In a speech in Harlem on Sunday, New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo pointed out that the city’s gun violence has been rising, but instead of calling for more tough-on-crime measures he pushed for closing some state prisons. In the speech covered by the New York Daily News,Cuomo asked the audience, “guess how much it costs per year to keep a person in a juvenile justice facility? Over $200,000 per year. $200,000! You could’ve sent that person to Harvard University and it would be cheaper.”

Cuomo went on to say the money would be better spent at the community level and on violence prevention programs.

“We’re going to take that money and provide it in community- based services so the problem doesn’t happen in the first place,” he said.