New York State has a long standing record of trying 16- and 17-year-old defendants as adults, but not for long? Chief judge Jonathan Lippman has proposed that those charged with less serious crimes should be transferred to family court. This plan, while protecting minors from questionable treatment in correctional facilities, would also severely affect the state budget when it comes to funds for social services. The measure would also affect the roles of those working within the court system, with judges, prosecution, and correctional officers likely shifting jurisdiction.
While the Democratic majority in the state assembly have supported lenient treatment for lesser offenses, the Republican majority in the senate may not be on board. The proposal would ultimately have to be approved by the State Legislature and Governor Cuomo.
What is particularly unsettling is the role that state budget may have on the prosecution and legal treatment of minors. Family court services don't come cheap!
In the meantime, Judge Lippman has been working with the New York Center for Juvenile Justice, an organization that promotes "a model of justice for minors that treats children as children, and responds to their misconduct with strategies designed to improve their chances of becoming constructive members of society." The group works primarily to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 16 to 18.