Brooklyn, NY – Every interrogation of a juvenile in Family Court is now mandated to include a video recording under a law sponsored by Assemblymember Mathylde Frontus that took effect this week. The legislation (S.6533/A.7979) was sponsored in the Senate by former Senator Velmanette Montgomery and signed by the governor into law last year. Known as the “Central Park 5” law, it closes a loophole that only required video recordings in cases where minors were accused of violent crimes.
“We need to make sure that the questioning of minors is done in a fair, proper manner that is free from coercion, intimidation or manipulation. I am proud to have championed this legislation to help ensure that the tragedy of the Central Park 5 is not repeated. We can now be confident that questioning of juveniles is done appropriately and transparently and that there will be a video record of all interrogations of minors in New York State,” said Assemblymember Frontus.
Under this legislation, video recordings are required of all juveniles accused of delinquency in family court. While New York’s Raise the Age legislation increased the age of criminal responsibility to 18 and treats 16- and 17-year-olds as adolescent offenders, some parts of the juvenile justice system are not covered by that law. By requiring that all interrogations are recorded, the Central Park 5 bill ensures that juveniles in family court are protected from coercive tactics, reducing abuses and promoting accountability in the juvenile justice system.
The bill was named for the Central Park 5, who were all juveniles when they were convicted of sexually assaulting a jogger in 1989. They later became known as the Exonerated 5 when their convictions were overturned following identification of the real attacker. Each of the Exonerated 5 defendants endured hours of interrogation without an adult present and served years in prison for a crime they did not commit. The City of New York has paid out $45 million in settlements with the Exonerated 5 defendants.