New York Now Bans the Arrest of Children Under 12
Effective January 1, 2023, New York state no longer arrests or criminally prosecutes children who are under the age of 12 - with one exception.
The bill, introduced by Senators Bailey, Brisport, Brouk, Cooney, Gianaris, Hoylman, Jackson, Krueger, Myrie, Ramos, Rivera, Salazar, Sepulveda, and Stavisky, was passed in June of 2021 and signed into law by Governor Kathy Hochul on December 29, 2021. The law will certainly change how New York handles children under the age of 12 who may have committed a crime.
Currently, New York law allows children as young as seven to be arrested. Advocates for the law argued that New York had an overly punitive justice system and the passage of the bill was celebrated as a victory for juvenile justice reformers.
Since 1909, New York law stated that the minimum age of arrest and prosecution could be as young as the age of seven which is the second lowest age set by stature in the United States.
The law will not prevent all children under the age of 12 from being arrested. Children suspected of homicide can still be arrested. The law will also raise the age required to incarcerate a child in a secure detention facility from the current age of 10 now to 13 years old.
Once the law is set in place on January 1, 2023, any child under the age of 12 who commits a crime will be referred to their local social services department rather than arrested - unless homicide is suspected.
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According to data, nationwide, in 2019, there were 36,691 children between the ages of 10 and 12 years old who were arrested. There were also 2,550 children under the age of 10 who were arrested in 2019.