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‘Raise the Age,’ Now Law in New York, Is Still a Subject of Debate

ALBANY — Much of the praise for the Raise the Age initiative, which was passed by the New York Legislature over the weekend, was effusive, with various political factions claiming it as their own victory and its supporters calling it a historic protection for juvenile defendants.

To be sure, the law — signed Monday by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in a celebratory ceremony — represents a major change in how the state deals with 16- and 17-year-old defendants, diverting the majority of those cases directly to Family Court or to judges with access to social services and special training.

All of which gave Mr. Cuomo another political victory on a progressive issue, albeit one that was necessary only because of the state’s seemingly retrograde attitudes: Before Monday, New York was one of only two states, with North Carolina, to view 16- and 17-year-olds as adults in Criminal Court.


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