March 24, 2021
Assembly Passes Legislation to Remove Antiquated Language from Family Court Proceedings
Speaker Carl Heastie today announced the Assembly has passed legislation to eliminate the stigma of being labeled “incorrigible” in Persons in Need of Supervision (PINS) proceedings (A.5873, Reyes).
“Our family court system is intended to assess the needs of young people and to find ways to meet those needs,” said Speaker Heastie. “Labeling them with words that assume that they are hopeless or incapable of changing is counter to that goal and has disproportionately impacted young people of color, particularly young women of color. This legislation sends a positive message that our family courts are meant to help and empower these young people.”
“Labeling young people who are struggling as ‘incorrigible’ is completely out of line with the current understanding of the goals of our family court system,” said Children and Families Committee Chair Andrew Hevesi. “The label is outdated, sexist and racist and is in direct conflict with what we know to be true – that our young people are capable of rehabilitation.”
“For too long our family court system has used language that assumes young people, especially young women of color, are hopeless or beyond repair,” said Assemblymember Karines Reyes. “Using terminology like ‘incorrigible’ is unacceptable and has singled out young women of color for not meeting expectations of stereotypical feminine behavior. That type of mislabeling is harmful and incompatible with the objective of our family court system. This legislation is a step forward for all of our children.”
The term “incorrigible” is defined as a person who is incapable of being corrected or reformed, and does not align with the goals of New York’s family court system. Under the bill, the word “incorrigible” would be removed from the Family Court Act. The archaic and harmful term has been disproportionately applied to girls and young women of color.