Treat all arrested teens alike?

Starting in October 2019, the age of criminal responsibility in New York state will be raised to 18 years old. This change was approved back in April as part of the New York state budget negotiations.

The concept sounds promising. We don’t want to put teenagers in prison or jail with adults who could negatively impact them. It’s better to send them to family and youth courts and to detain them in juvenile facilities.

But there’s another part of this story.

Before this legislation is enacted, the state Legislature may want to come up with a plan on what to do with teenagers arrested in violent vs. nonviolent crimes. Should those charged with homicide be sent to interact with those charged with vandalism? We’re not sure they should.

Lawmakers have about two-and-a-half years before the law takes effect to answer that question and come up with a solution, if they decide it needs one.