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Long Island News

Research points to limited benefit of New York's 'raise the age' laws

More than 40 states currently have a felony murder law, which juvenile justice advocates believe unfairly impacts young people. Some lawmakers in states such as Illinois and California have sought to enact reform.
Eric Risberg
/
AP
More than 40 states currently have a felony murder law, which juvenile justice advocates believe unfairly impacts young people.

Republicans and even some Democrats, like New York City Mayor Eric Adams, have called for rollbacks to the state’s “raise the age” law that took 16- and 17-year-olds charged with non-violent crimes and charged them as youth instead of adults. Now, new research points to limited public safety benefits of these laws.

The new research looked at similar youth in Massachusetts. Researchers found that the Massachusetts raise the age law had no tangible public safety benefits. And, the law actually increased recidivism for 17-year-olds by 5%.

“The hope has been that it would have a sort of lead to a net reduction in recidivism and justice system involvement," said Charles Loeffler, a professor of criminology at the University of Pennsylvania, who conducted the study. "We haven't yet seen that.”

Loeffler cautioned against rolling back raise the age laws altogether. Instead, he suggested looking at what aspects of the adult justice system can be brought to the juvenile system.