CHNY is actively lobbying for the following bills related to Youth Criminal Justice:
Strengthen and Expand Protections for Court Involved Youth Up to Age 25
Based on research in neuroscience and psychology, we know that human brain development continues into the mid-20s. Young adults are more impulsive and more susceptible to peer pressure than adults. New York’s Youthful Offender (“YO”) law provides the opportunity for youth under the age of 19 to have a criminal conviction set aside and replaced with a confidential, non-criminal adjudication. It also allows for reduced prison sentences. Yet, at age 19, this critical protection is no longer available and young people face mandatory prison sentences and lifelong criminal records that create barriers to education, jobs, and housing for offenses that occurred during child and young adulthood. A3536/S5749 would strengthen existing protections under the youthful offender law and create a new “Young Adult Status” covering young adults up to age 25. It would also ensure that young people convicted before reforms go into effect benefit from criminal record sealing.
Relates to the retroactive determination of youthful offender status
New York’s Youthful Offender (“YO”) law provides the opportunity for youth under the age of 19 to have a criminal conviction set aside and replaced with a confidential, non-criminal adjudication. It also allows for reduced prison sentences. Unfortunately, many young people who are already eligible for youthful offender status under current law are not granted it. This denial of YO status leaves these young adults with criminal records that can lead to significant barriers, including limited access to employment, as they try to move away from the criminal justice system into successful adult lives. Under A6769/S282, a person who was initially eligible for YO Status (under 19 at the time) but was denied it, and who has not been convicted of a crime for at least five years since their sentence would be eligible to apply to the sentencing court for a new determination of potential retroactive YO status. This will enable more New York young adults to be free of the burden of a criminal record that can make it difficult to leave poverty and associated criminal activity behind. Read our Memorandum of Support – submitted to the NYS Assembly – by clicking here.
Relates to the maximum penalty for fare evasion
Assembly Bill 00047 seeks to suspend the issuance of fines and/or criminal charges for those who evade the fare on the New York City public transportation system. CHNY is in strong support of this legislation, as transit citations are one of the most frequent concerns of youth who seek out the assistance of our legal services department. A small study of our youth in 2012 found that almost 40% had some type of transit violation. Although we do not condone the nonpayment of transit fares, it makes little sense to give someone who cannot afford the $2.75 fare, a $100 fine that they will not be able to pay. When these fines go unpaid, interest accrues which can later affect the young person’s credit and could lead to further criminal charges or garnished wages. As the bill memo for A00047 states “prosecuting a New Yorker for theft of services in the amount of $2.75 is the definition of criminalizing poverty.” This bill would prohibit financial fines greater than the cost of the fare. CHNY is recommending that other sanctions, including community service, be offered. We are also proposing that for at least the first and second offenses, sanctions can be waived if an agency such as CHNY writes a letter on the young person’s behalf stating that they are experiencing homeless and seeking the services of a social services agency.