Did 'Raise The Age' Lead to More Juvenile Violent Crime?

Did 'Raise The Age' Lead to More Juvenile Violent Crime?

Did 'Raise The Age' Lead to More Juvenile Violent Crime?

Report from John Jay College Research & Evaluation Center Says the Answer is No

The share of violent crimes committed by people under 18 has generally gone down in New York City since the Raise the Age law was passed in 2017, according to a new study from the Research & Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice (REC). New police data from 2022 shows felony assault arrests for people under 18 made up four percent of the total, half the percentage from 2014 (8%) and far less than 2006, when it was 15 percent of all felony assault arrests.

The study also found that youth under 18 were eight percent of all arrests for felony dangerous weapon charges, down from nine percent in 2014 before the Raise the Age law was enacted.

Read the whole report

“As researchers, we rarely have exactly the right data to prove a theory is true, but we can sometimes use available data to show a theory is probably false,” said REC Director Jeffrey Butts, co-author of the study with Sheyla A. Delgado, and Richard A. Espinobarros. “This study shows there is not enough evidence to prove that Raise the Age legislation led to a rise in juvenile violent crime.”

Before Raise the Age was passed, New York was one of only two states that automatically prosecuted all 16 and 17-year-olds as adults in criminal court rather than family court. Supporters of the law argued that treating them as adults set them on a life-long negative path and did not improve public safety. Critics of the change argued that the juvenile system was not ready for so many new cases and that prosecutors and judges should retain the discretion to decide if a case should be moved to family court.

The study, a REC DataBits report, examined NYPD data from New York City’s Open Data portal and was supported by the New York City Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice (MOCJ).

About the Research & Evaluation Center
The Research and Evaluation Center (JohnJayREC) has been a prominent research center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice since 1975. Our mission is to produce credible research evidence that can be accessed and understood by many audiences, not only researchers. We evaluate prevention strategies, test the effectiveness of interventions, and analyze efforts to improve the impact and equity of justice systems.

About John Jay College of Criminal Justice
An international leader in educating for justice, John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York is a Hispanic Serving Institution and Minority Serving Institution offering a rich liberal arts and professional studies curriculum to 15,000 undergraduate and graduate students from more than 135 nations. John Jay is home to faculty and research centers at the forefront of advancing criminal and social justice reform. In teaching, scholarship and research, the College engages the theme of justice and explores fundamental human desires for fairness, equality and the rule of law. For more information, visit www.jjay.cuny.edu.