Deadline for New York Governor’s Juvenile Justice Task Force Report Passes, With No Report

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s task force monitoring a major statewide juvenile justice reform was supposed to hand in its first report to the leaders of the state’s legislature 13 days ago, but it appears they missed the deadline.

The task force, comprised of law enforcement officials, social service experts and other senior officials from public sectors, was announced by Gov. Cuomo in April of last year. It was supposed to track how local governments in New York handle the implementation of the Raise the Age law, and whether the reform itself is “effective.”

The law raises the age of adult criminal responsibility from 16 to 18, and bars anyone younger than 18 from being detained in an adult facility. Teens facing more felony charges will still have their cases begin in adult court, possibly facing adult sentences, with opportunities for transfer to family court after a judge’s review.

The law also allows eligible individuals to petition the court to seal up to misdemeanor and felony convictions. The task force is responsible for reporting data on “the number of applicants, the number of individuals granted sealing, and the overall effectiveness of the law’s sealing requirements,” according to the law.

Hailed as a progressive milestone of Cuomo’s efforts to address criminal justice reform in New York, and passed as part of the budgets in 2017, it faced some opposition from law enforcement and rural Republican state legislators.

The report was supposed to be delivered to the Assembly speaker, currently Carl Heastie of the Bronx, and the Senate’s Temporary President, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, from Westchester.

While it hasn’t been made public as of today, Naomi Post, who is the executive director of Children’s Defense Fund in New York and a member of the 15-member task force said that the report is “supposed to be shared amongst the governor and the attorney general first, before it would be made public.” She said that she did not know about the progress of the report and that she had not heard if either the governor or Attorney General Letitia James had looked at the report yet.

Heastie, James, and Stewart-Cousins’ offices did not respond to requests for comment. A spokesperson for the Governor’s Office responded via e-mail that “the Task Force is currently working and close to finalizing the report.” The spokesperson added that he “did not know if the assembly or the senate has seen the report.”

Janine Kava, the director of public information for the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, said in an email that “the report was being finalized and we expect it to be released to the public later this month.”

The report is also expected to address budgetary concerns from local agencies about future allocations, and will analyze how individual youth cases were processed from arrest through court hearings, through the first year.

Thirteen out of the 15 members of the task force declined to comment regarding the progress or current status of the report.

 Michael Fitzgerald contributed reporting to this story.

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Michael Fitzgerald
About Michael Fitzgerald 78 Articles
Northeast Editor for The Chronicle of Social Change. Follow me on Twitter: @mchlftzgrld