The tragic and unsettling story of Kalief Browder has notably emerged as a prominent illustration of our criminal justice system’s historical failure to protect our youth. Kalief’s story gained massive media attention with the help of a TIME documentary series featured on Netflix and famous A-listers such as music artist Jay-Z and TV host Rosie O’Donnell. It is hard to ignore the fact that Kalief Browder was cheated by the system; he chose suicide to escape his demons, which developed after undeserved time spent at Riker’s – a place he would have never experienced had he initially been tried as a juvenile in Family Court.
Kalief Browder’s devastating story, along with many other similar stories, provoked valid concerns about criminal procedural policies in New York. Fortunately, Kalief did not die in vain; on April 10, 2017, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed the New York State Raise the Age reform bill into law. In October 2018, this law commenced New York’s progressive journey of raising its juvenile age from sixteen years old to eighteen years old. Although this change is a tremendous step for the State’s criminal justice system, its execution has and will require considerable adjustment and adaptation by departments and courts throughout the state. This Article discusses the history of the Raise the Age Campaign, the reasons for its promulgation, the potentially significant impact of the new law on our current system, local strategies for implementation, and additional steps beyond raising the age that must be taken to further resolve our system’s juvenile delinquency issues.
Recommended CitationSamantha A. Mumola, The Concrete Jungle: Where Dreams Are Made of . . . and Now Where Children Are Protected, 39 Pace L. Rev. 539 (2018)
Available at: https://digitalcommons.pace.edu/plr/vol39/iss1/11