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Cuomo appoints panel to examine youth sentencing system

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Wednesday named 16 members to a panel that will examine the state’s juvenile sentencing system and will make recommendations on raising the age of criminal responsibility from 16 to 18.

In his State of the State address in January,  Cuomo pledged to convene a committee that would review the state’s juvenile justice laws, following years of efforts from advocacy groups to “raise the age” that youth offenders can be tried as adults to 18.

New York and North Carolina are the only states that automatically prosecute 16- and 17-year-olds as adults in misdemeanor and felony cases -- a standard Cuomo called "outdated" in his State of the State address.

“It’s time to improve New York’s outdated juvenile justice laws and raise the age at which our children can be tried and charged as adults,” Cuomo said a news release Wednesday announcing the appointees.

The commission, which will have until the end of the year to form its recommendations, is co-chaired by Soffiyah Elijah, executive director of the Correctional Association of New York, and Jeremy Creelan, a partner at the law firm Jenner & Block and a former special counsel to Cuomo.

Other members of the commission include: Juan Cartagena, president of Latino Justice PRLDEF; Joel Copperman, president and chief executive of the Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services; Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore; Elizabeth Glazer, director of the NYC Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice;  Michael Hardy, executive vice president & general counsel of the National Action Network; Melanie Hartzog, executive director of the Children's Defense Fund of New York; Emily Tow Jackson, executive director of The Tow Foundation; Judge Barry Kamins, chief of policy and planning for the New York State Unified Court System; Albany Chief of Police Steven Krokoff; Schenectady County Director of Probation Joseph Mancini; Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente; Madison County Sheriff Allen Riley; Rochester City Council Member Elaine Spaull; and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance.

Several Long Island officials and advocacy groups have come out in support of raising the age of criminal responsibility, including Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice.

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