Sullivan DA slams policy that is holding up the state budget

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MONTICELLO – One of the major obstacles to finalizing a New York State budget is something called “Raise the Age.”  The current practice, at least in theory, in New York State, to prosecute all juveniles ages 16 and 17, accused of a felony, as adults.  North Carolina is the only other state that does that.
During Thursday’s Sullivan County Legislature Public Safety and Law Enforcement Committee, District Attorney James Farrell called it a “fallacy.”
“In 2015, 96 percent of 16- and 17-year-olds that were prosecuted in the State of New York – let me repeat that, 96 percent – had their records sealed and suffered no criminal conviction,” Farrell said. 
Calling himself a “pretty tough DA,” Farrell said the figure is identical in Sullivan with 96 percent ending up with no record. 
It’s the other four percent, the ones who shoot and kill someone while robbing a store, he’s worried about.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen, but we know one thing, that the governor has tied his budget to this social and policy issue, which, in my opinion, is plain wrong,” Farrell said.
County Jail Administrator Harold Smith said one concern is that if juveniles spend any time in the jail, even as a suspect pending arraignment, for a minor offense, the juvenile is at risk of making the wrong kind of friends. 
A tentative agreement reportedly was reached earlier this week on a compromise that would refer all misdemeanor cases to family court, and allow violent felonies to be referred to family court under certain limited criteria.  Use of a weapon, injury to a victim, or a sexual component in the crime would preclude that.