Fall 2013 Symposium

Reconsidering Juvenile and Criminal Court Jurisdiction in New York

A Youth Justice Symposium Generously Sponsored by the Pinkerton Foundation

John Jay College of Criminal Justice
524 West 59th Street, New York, NY
2nd Floor Dining Hall
8:30 a.m. — 1:30 p.m.

Featured Speakers

Marian Wright Edelman

John Roman

Vincent Schiraldi


New York State places more 16- and 17-year-old youth in criminal (adult) court than any other state in the country. Other states, including Connecticut, Illinois, and Massachusetts are returning their young people to juvenile or family court by changing the laws that govern the upper age of juvenile court jurisdiction. Such efforts are called “raise the age,” and New York has its own reform movement to pursue this goal.

Handling young offenders in the interventionist juvenile system rather than the retributive criminal system is consistent with modern knowledge about adolescent development and neuroscience, but is it enough simply to “raise the age”? Can youth advocates declare victory and go home if they successfully reset the upper-age law, or might such a success be just the first step in a broader movement to bring the legal system into alignment with science and good practice? Speakers and audience members at the November 2013 Pinkerton Symposium on Youth Justice explored the social and scientific concepts underlying the pervasive legal distinctions between juvenile and criminal law as well as the choices facing New York lawmakers.

Participants considered a number of critical questions:

  • How do states draw the line between juvenile and criminal law?
  • Why do legal systems distinguish between the law violations of juveniles and adults at all?
  • Why is New York one of only two states that still place all 16-year-olds under original criminal jurisdiction?
  • If all young offenders are handled in family court rather than criminal court, will they still be held accountable?
  • What are the arguments for placing all young offenders in family court? Who opposes the policy?
  • What does behavioral science say on the question? Are the findings of neuroscience relevant as well?
  • Do we know what will happen if New York returns all 16-year-old and 17-year-old offenders to family court?
  • What’s the plan?

Audience members heard a diverse group of participants debate these important questions. All discussants are actively engaged in shaping future justice systems in New York City, New York State, and nationally. They debated the options for handling youthful offenders in the legal system and interacted with members of the audience in open conversation.

Introductory Comments by Jeffrey Butts



 8:30—9:00    Registration and light breakfast

9:00—9:10    Welcoming comments and introductory statements

Ann Jacobs, Director of the Prisoner Reentry Institute, John Jay College of Criminal Justice
Richard Smith, President of the Pinkerton Foundation, New York, NY
Jeffrey Butts, Director of the Research & Evaluation Center, John Jay College of Criminal Justice
9:10—9:30   Preserving Childhood and Adolescence

Introduction: Mishi Faruqee, American Civil Liberties Union

faruqee_headMishi Faruqee is juvenile justice policy strategist for the national ACLU. Previously, she worked as an advocate for juvenile justice and criminal justice reform in New York, with the Correctional Association of New York, first as director of the Women in Prison Project and later as director of the Juvenile Justice Project, as the director of youth justice programs at the Children’s Defense Fund-NY, and as special assistant to the Commissioner at the New York City Department of Probation. Mishi holds graduate degrees from Oxford University and the New School for Social Research and received her B.A. from Swarthmore College.
Featured Speaker: Marian Wright Edelman, Children’s Defense Fund
edelman_head_bwMarian Wright Edelman is founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF). She has been an advocate for disadvantaged Americans for her entire professional life. Under her leadership, CDF became the nation’s strongest voice for children and families. The Children’s Defense Fund’s mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start, and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities. A graduate of Spelman College and Yale Law School, Marian Wright Edelman began her career in the mid-1960s when, as the first black woman admitted to the Mississippi Bar, she directed the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund office in Jackson, Mississippi. In 1968, she moved to Washington, D.C., as counsel for the Poor People’s Campaign that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. began organizing before his death. She founded the Washington Research Project, a public interest law firm and the parent body of CDF. For two years, she served as the Director of the Center for Law and Education at Harvard University, and in 1973 she began the  Children’s Defense Fund.
9:30—10:00   Panel 1 — If It’s Such a Good Idea, Why Haven’t we Already Raised the Age?
Facilitator: Marsha Levick
levick_head_bwMarsha Levick is Deputy Director and Chief Counsel at Juvenile Law Center, which she co-founded in 1975. Throughout her legal career, Levick has been an advocate for children’s and women’s rights and is a nationally recognized expert in juvenile law. She oversees Juvenile Law Center’s litigation and appellate docket and has successfully litigated challenges to unlawful and harmful laws, policies and practices on behalf of children in both the juvenile justice and child welfare systems. Levick also spearheaded Juvenile Law Center’s litigation arising out of the Luzerne County, Pennsylvania juvenile court judges’ corruption scandal, known as the “kids for cash” scandal. Marsha Levick is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Temple University Law School.
rice_head_bwKathleen Rice is the District Attorney of Nassau County, a diverse suburban community of 1.3 million people located on Long Island, New York. Her career in public service began as an assistant district attorney in New York City where she handled cases of domestic violence and gang activity and was appointed to the office’s elite Homicide Bureau. Previously, she was Assistant United States Attorney and served as a federal prosecutor in the Department of Justice’s Philadelphia office. Kathleen graduated from Catholic University in Washington, D.C. and she holds a J.D. from Long Island’s Touro Law Center.
schindler_head_bwMarc Schindler is executive director of the Justice Policy Institute in Washington, DC. Before joining JPI, he was a partner for the D.C.-based nonprofit philanthropic investment organization, Venture Philanthropy Partners, where he led the Social Innovation Fund youthCONNECT initiative that aligned public-private capital, evaluation, and high performing non-profit organizations to improve outcomes for disconnected youth. Before that, Marc served as General Counsel, Chief of Staff and Interim Director for the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS), Washington, D.C.’s cabinet-level juvenile justice agency. He graduated from Yale University and holds a law degree from the University of Maryland School of Law.
steckler_head_bw-150x150Tamara A. Steckler is the Attorney-in-Charge of the Juvenile Rights Practice of the Legal Aid Society in New York City (JRP). She began her legal career as a staff attorney for JRP in the Bronx trial office, was the Legal Director for Talbot Perkins Foster Care Agency and worked with JRP in the Brooklyn trial office. She also served as director of the Family Law Unit and then assistant executive director and development director for the New York Legal Assistance Group. Tamara returned to JRP in 2005 as the Attorney-in-Charge.  She has been active in many state and city working groups and task forces addressing issues of child welfare and juvenile justice. Tami graduated from Syracuse University and earned her law degree from Hofstra University.
10:00—10:20    Audience Discussion
10:20—10:35    Break
10:35—10:50  The Costs and Consequences of Reform
Introduction: President Jeremy Travis, John Jay College of Criminal Justice
travis_head_bwJeremy Travis is President of John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Prior to his appointment, he was a Senior Fellow affiliated with the Justice Policy Center at the Urban Institute in Washington, DC, and before that he directed the National Institute of Justice, the research arm of the U.S. Department of Justice. Prior to his service in Washington, Travis was Deputy Commissioner for Legal Matters for the New York City Police Department (NYPD) from 1990-1994; Chief Counsel to the U.S. House Judiciary Subcommittee on Criminal Justice in 1990, chaired by then-Rep. Charles E. Schumer; Special Advisor to New York City Mayor Edward I. Koch from 1986-89; and Special Counsel to the Police Commissioner of the NYPD from 1984-86. Jeremy graduated from Yale College and he holds a JD from the New York University School of Law and an MPA from the New York University Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.
Featured Speaker: John Roman, Urban Institute
roman_head1John Roman is a senior fellow in the Justice Policy Center at the Urban Institute, where he focuses on evaluations of innovative crime-control policies and justice programs. He is also executive director of the District of Columbia Crime Policy Institute. He has directed numerous studies supported by state, federal, and private funders, including two randomized trials of the use of DNA in motor vehicle thefts and burglary investigations, an evaluation of post-conviction DNA evidence testing to estimate rates of wrongful conviction, and a study on why forensic evidence is rarely used by law enforcement to identify unknown offenders. John graduated from Kenyon College and holds Masters (University of Michigan) and Ph.D. (University of Maryland) degrees in Public Policy.
10:50—11:20  Panel 2 — What’s the Plan for New York?
Facilitator: Richard Aborn
aborn_head_bwRichard Aborn is president of the Citizens Crime Commission of New York City, a non-partisan non-profit organization focused on criminal justice and public safety policies and practices. He also serves as president of Constantine & Aborn Advisory Services (CAAS), which advises police departments, criminal justice agencies, corporations and other organizations in the United States, Europe, and Latin America on high-level strategy and management issues. He graduated from the University of Dubuque and earned a law degree from John Marshall Law School in Chicago.
hartzog_head_bwMelanie Hartzog leads the Children’s Defense Fund-New York office. Prior to joining CDF-NY, Melanie was the family services coordinator in the New York City Office of the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services and she served as project director for the Young Men’s Initiative, an innovative public/private partnership aimed at reducing disparities between the economic and social outcomes of young men of color and other demographic groups in New York City. Before the Mayor’s Office, Melanie was deputy commissioner for early childhood services at New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services. Mel is a graduate of Eckerd College and she holds has a Master of Science degree from the New School’s Milano School of International Affairs.
march_head_bw-150x150Jennifer March is executive director of the Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York. She is responsible for all agency operations and she represents CCC on numerous government bodies such as the advisory boards of the City’s Administration for Children’s Services, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the Department of Probation, and the State Office of Temporary Disability Assistance. Before becoming executive director in 2007, Jennifer was associate executive director. Previously, she worked in the Finance Division of the New York City Council. Jennifer is a graduate of LeMoyne College and she earned the Ph.D. in political science from Fordham University.
pinto_head_bwAngelo R. Pinto is campaign manager for the Juvenile Justice Project at the Correctional Association of New York. He oversees the Association’s Raise the Age Campaign, which seeks to increase New York State’s age of criminal responsibility, end the practice of housing children in adult jails and prisons, and ensure that children in the justice system receive appropriate rehabilitative services. Prior to joining the Correctional Association, Angelo served as Program Manager at the Arthur Ashe Institute where he designed and implemented community interventions. Angelo graduated with a bachelor’s in criminal justice and sociology from Clark Atlanta University, and he earned a J.D. from the City University of New York Law School.
11:20—11:50    Audience Discussion11:50—12:10   Lunch
12:10—12:30    What About Older Adolescents?
Introduction: David Utter, Southern Poverty Law Center
utter-headDavid Utter is director of policy and legislation for the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Florida office. His entire legal career has focused on public interest work, including serving as the co-founder and former director of the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana (JJPL), and with the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta he represented indigent prisoners in Alabama and Louisiana challenging illegal treatment and conditions of confinement. With Clive Stafford Smith, he also opened the Louisiana Crisis Assistance Center where he focused on the defense of indigent persons facing the death penalty in Louisiana. David graduated from Emory University in 1986 and received his law degree from the University of Florida.
Featured Speaker: Vincent Schiraldi, New York City Department of Probation
schiraldi_head_bw-150x150Vincent Schiraldi is Commissioner of the New York City Department of Probation. Previously, he served as Washington, DC’s first-ever Director of the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services, where he launched major reforms. He has served as an advisor on the Washington, DC Blue Ribbon Commission on Youth Safety and Juvenile Justice Reform; a member of the California Blue Ribbon Commission on Inmate Population Management; an advisor to the California Commission on the Status of African American Men; and he was the first chair of the San Francisco Juvenile Probation Commission. He also founded two nonprofit organizations: the Center on Juvenile & Criminal Justice and the Justice Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. Vinny graduated from Binghamton University in Binghamton, NY and he earned a Masters in Social Work from New York University.

12:30—1:00    Audience Discussion
Closing Remarks