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Thursday, December 24, 2015

Andrew Cuomo
ALBANY -- Minors in state captivity will be removed from adult prisons and transferred to facilities geared for younger offenders, according to an executive order issued Wednesday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

“By housing 16 and 17 year-olds in an age-appropriate correctional facility, we can offer them a better chance at turning their lives around and becoming productive members of society,” Gov. Cuomo said. “This action will help reduce the recidivism rate, increase public safety, and save taxpayer dollars over the long run. No matter how you look at it – whether it’s the economic benefits, the security benefits, or the human benefits – this action is the right thing to do, and I am proud to continue bringing much-needed reform to the justice system.”

New York is one of only two states that automatically processes all 16 and 17 year-olds in the adult criminal justice system, no matter the offense. To meet the goal of the executive order, the Hudson Correctional Facility in Columbia County, which is currently a medium security general confinement facility, will be transformed to appropriately serve this special population. By August, the first group of youth will be transferred into the facility as follows:

  • All medium and minimum security general confinement male youth;
  • All female youth; and
  • The facility will also serve as a reception and classification center for all youth entering DOCCS custody.

By the end of 2016, additional infrastructure work will be completed to create a Juvenile Separation Unit that will allow for those inmates who receive a disciplinary confinement sanction of 30 days or less to also be housed at the Hudson Correctional Facility. The work release and industrial training programs, currently operating on the grounds of the Hudson Correctional Facility will remain operational as the adult inmates are housed outside of the secure perimeter and will not access the area where the youth will be held. Maximum security classified male youth will remain housed in a separate Juvenile Unit at the Coxsackie Correctional Facility.

The Executive Order also makes clear that the movement of youth to this newly developed facility will be an interim step pending the passage of the Raise the Age legislation. The Governor has taken a bold step to ensure that the needs of 16 and 17 youth are being met but will continue to call on the legislature to pass vital legislation that will include a comprehensive initiatives and programs to assist these youth.

On Monday, the governor pardoned nearly 10,000 people who committed non-violent crimes at the age of 16 or 17 who have not re-offended in 10 years. This action, the first of its kind in the nation, advances the principles from his Raise the Age Campaign, which calls upon New York to join 48 other states in recognizing that 16 and 17-year-old children do not belong in the adult court system.

"We spent all of these years believing that if we punished every offender enough without any relief in the future, every crime would disappear,” Gov. Cuomo said. “What we ultimately did was give a life sentence of stigmatization to kids who made a mistake and drive more people towards crime, because society told them for the rest of their lives that that's what they were – criminals. This initiative is about validating the personal commitment of people who turned their lives around and rejected crime in exchange for being a contributing member of society."

Pardons will be granted on the following conditions: 
  • The person was 16 or 17 at the time they committed the crime for which they were convicted. 
  • At least 10 years have passed since the person was either convicted of the crime, or released from a period of incarceration for that crime, if applicable. 
  • The person has been conviction-free since that time. 
  • The person was convicted of a misdemeanor or a non-violent felony.
  • The person was not originally convicted of a sex offense.
  • The person is currently a New York State resident.
  • The person has paid taxes on any income.
  • The person is a productive member of his or her community, meaning that the individual is working, looking for work, in school or legitimately unable to work.
All people who believe that they qualify for this pardon are invited to apply through the Governor’s website,

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