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Sharing Prison Space in New York: Placing Teens in Adult Jails

August 22, 2016, on Criminal Defense Articles |

When a teen is arrested for violating the law, it is imperative that parents of the alleged offender get in touch with Albany criminal defense attorneys as soon as possible after accusations are made against the teen. 

New York has a reputation for how it deals with teenagers who get in trouble with the law. The problems with how New York handles juvenile justice matters are so huge that the New York Times recently published an editorial condemning one of New York's most common practices: putting teens in adult jails.

New York Teens are Being Put in the Same Jails as Adults

The New York Times warns that the Supreme Court has found it both morally wrong and unconstitutional to equate offenses committed by teens with crimes carried about by adults. The Times also warns that when kids are prosecuted as adults, this can end up turning them into career criminals and ultimately destroy their futures.

Despite this, New York state tries teens as adults all the time. In fact, New York and North Carolina are two of the top states that funnel 16-year-olds into the adult criminal justice system.  Other states (like Louisiana) that have a reputation for being hard on teens and tough on crime in general have been making changes to the way teens are prosecuted and punished. 

Yet, despite the warm reception given in Louisiana to a bill that would raise the age of adult prosecution to 18, New York lawmakers have not been favorable to laws that would stop teens from being treated as adults within the criminal justice system.

Governor Andrew Cuomo submitted a proposed law in New York to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 18. The proposal was similar to the one Louisiana lawmakers have largely embraced, but New York lawmakers reportedly balked at Cuomo's suggestions.  If New York was to adopt this standard and require a teen to be at least 18 to be charged as an adult, the state would join most of the rest of the country in making certain that a youthful mistake does not fully shape a teen's future.

Despite the resistance by New York lawmakers to make modifications, it is clearly time to make a change. New York's current law results in teens being tried as adults if they are 16.  This law exists because when the juvenile justice system in New York was created in 1962 under the Family Court Act, lawmakers could not agree on what age to set for becoming an “adult.” 

Those who created the Act set the age temporarily at 16, pending further hearings. However, the temporary measure ended up becoming a permanent one, as the rules allowing 16-year-old children to be tried as adults remain in effect.

Because teens could end up being charged as adults and thus imprisoned with adults, parents need to take accusations against their children very seriously. Our criminal defense lawyers can provide help in arguing that a young person should not be tried as an adult. An attorney can also help to defend a teen in court if his or her case goes to trial. Contact The Law Office of James E. Tyner, PLLC today.

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I hired Mr. Tyner last summer. Very receptive, communicated well, did everything that needed to be done, and wound up never having any charges filed after he helped out. Worth the money for peace of mind.