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Teens arrested on gun charges could be tried as adults under Hochul's proposal

3-21 Bail refrom Rally
Progressive advocates and lawmakers rally in Albany over Governor Kathy Hochul's apparent plan to rollback recent criminal justice reforms. (Karen DeWitt/WSKG)
Raise the age spot

ITHACA, NY (WSKG) — Sixteen and 17 year olds could be tried as adults in New York if they are involved in a gun crime, according to aleaked memo detailing Governor Kathy Hochul’s plans for criminal justice reform in the upcoming state budget.

It’s an apparent rollback of the 2017 "Raise the Age" law that changed New York’s age of criminal responsibility from 16 to 18. The memo cites a significant increase in gun arrests among teens since that law was passed.

"Raise the Age" brought New York in line with most other states, where children under 18 cannot be tried as adults or held in adult facilities. 

Jared Trujillo, a lawyer with the New York Civil Liberties Union, was one of dozens of progressive advocates and lawmakers who spoke at a rally in Albany Monday.

Trujillo said rolling back the age limit, even if for a few crimes, would undo the progress made in the last few years.

"We're just talking about not being one of the most regressive states in this country, and not treating all 16 and 17 year olds like adults," Trujillo said. "It's recognizing that kids — like everyone — are redeemable, but that we should actually be investing in kids."

The main focus of the Monday rally was Hochul's apparent attempt to roll back the state's 2019 bail reform laws. Under bail reform, people who commit misdemeanors and some felonies could not be held on bail before trial.

Hochul, who had remained silent on the issue until recently, had also proposed adding making more crimes bail eligible.

It's not yet clear if Hochul's proposals will become a part of the budget due on April 1, though she has backing from some moderate Democrats and many Republicans looking to crack down on gun violence ahead of elections.