New York is one of only two states that treat 16- and 17-year-old defendants as criminally responsible adults.
New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman created the Adolescent Diversion Program in nine New York counties in early 2012 to link 16- and 17-year-olds to community-based interventions, such as educational and mental health programs. Judge Lippman has also proposed legislation to reform how the courts handle these cases across the state.
A new study by the Center for Court Innovation finds that 80 percent of participants in the Adolescent Diversion Program complied with their mandates. Participants in the program were less likely than comparison cases to be re-arrested on felony charges. Consistent with other research, high-risk young people fared better in the Adolescent Diversion Program than low-risk youth.
The new research is a snapshot of the ongoing initiative, offering a glimpse of the early results of a reform in progress.