FTNYS Public Policy

Paige Pierce, Executive Director
Brad Hansen, Public Policy Coordinator

Our Principles:

Families and youth must be active participants in planning services for their family and in developing and monitoring policies and services within their communities and within the state.  


 All children, youth and their families must have timely, affordable access to appropriate services within their community.  


 Children and youth must receive an appropriate education in the least restrictive environment possible.


 Families should never have to relinquish custody of their children in order to receive mental health services.


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Note from FTNYS Policy Staff
Yesterday, Governor Andrew Cuomo's Commission on Youth, Public Safety and Justice released its final recommendations on how to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 18 in New York State. He has also announced his total and whole-hearted support of the recommendations and his plans to use them to draft a package of bills that he will pass down to the Assembly. 

This is such an important victory for Families Together in New York State and the families we work for. Over the course of several years, raising the age of criminal responsibility has been our main legislative priority . Throughout the state, our staff, our board, our chapters and the networks we serve have spent countless hours organizing and advocating to help get the Governor's support on this initiative and finally, we are here. Gaining his full support of these recommendations is truly worth taking a moment to appreciate how far this issue has advanced in only a short amount of time and Families Together's role in leading these reforms. 

While we recognize that this marks only the beginning of long road ahead, certainly this news is worth taking a moment to celebrate a truly significant moment in our history as an organization and as a movement.

The Report
The 176-page report details the state's rich history of juvenile justice leadership in New York, recounting that in the early 1900's we were the first of many states in the country to recognize that juveniles deserve different treatment under the law than adults and in the 1970's was one of the first states to lower it. More importantly, the report outlines a bold approach on how to reclaim that history and position New York to be a national leader once again. Some key recommendations:
  • Under no circumstances can youth under the age 18 be held in adult jails and prisons.  
  • Raise the age that youth are treated as adults in criminal courts from age 16 to 18 over the next two years (to 17 in 2017 and 18 in 2018)
  • Shift all nonviolent 16 and 17-year-old offenders to family court jurisdiction. 
  • Create new youth courts to deal with criminal cases involving violent offenders younger than 18.
  • New youth court judges should have training in child development and the option to waive down youth to family-court jurisdiction at their discretion.   
  • Avoid costly incarceration, detention, and other out-of-home placements where there is no imminent threat to public safety. 
  • Utilize cost-effective, evidence-driven, community-based diversion and intervention programs.
  • Raise the minimum age that youth can be subject to the juvenile system from 7-years-old to 12-years-old.
  • For non-violent offenders age 18 through 21, records are sealed if they have no convictions for five years.
See the full report here

We hope that you join us for this year's Legislative Awareness Day in Albany. Together, we can make a strong case for these historic reforms and help us build momentum for other issues that families care about. Keep an eye out for 2015 Policy Agenda this month!
2015 Opportunity Agenda: Ensuring Justice in Perception and in Reality
Monday, January  19 2015. Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo.

On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, which honors the fight for justice and civil rights, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo received recommendations and proposed reforms to improve how the justice system treats young people. 

Today, he announced the eleventh part of his "2015 Opportunity Agenda" - the report and unanimous recommendations of the Commission on Youth, Public Safety & Justice, including the age at which youths are tried and processed for crimes as adults. Read more...

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