New York's highest court is the court of appeals, in Albany, with appellate jurisdiction only. The court of appeals consists of a chief judge and six associate judges, appointed by the governor and approved by the senate for 14-year terms. Below the court of appeals is the supreme court, with nearly 570 justices in 12 judicial districts. The supreme court of New York State does not sit as one body; instead, most supreme court justices are assigned original jurisdiction in civil and criminal matters, while 56 justices are assigned to the appellate division of supreme court and 15 to appellate terms of supreme court. Supreme court justices are elected by district and serve 14-year terms.
The New York court of claims sits in Albany, with judges appointed by the governor to nine-year terms, along with judges sitting as acting Supreme Court justices in felony trials. This special trial court hears civil cases involving claims by or against the state.
Outside New York City, each county has its own county court to handle criminal cases, although some are delegated to be handled by lower courts. County court judges are elected to 10-year terms. Many counties have a surrogate's court to handle such matters as wills and estates; surrogates are elected to 10-year terms except in New York City counties, where they are elected to 14-year terms. Each county has its own family court. In New York City, judges are appointed by the mayor for 10-year terms; elsewhere they are elected for 10 years. A county's district attorney has authority in criminal matters. Most cities (including New York City) have their own court systems; in New York City, the mayor appoints judges of city criminal and family courts. Village police justices and town justices of the peace handle minor violations and other routine matters.
The Department of Correctional Services maintains correctional facilities throughout the state, as well as regional parole offices. In June 2001, 69,158 inmates were in state and federal facilities, a decrease of 3.5% from the previous year. The state's incarceration rate stood at 364 per 100,000 inhabitants.
New York had an FBI Crime Index total of 2,925.1 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2001, including a total of 98,103 violent crimes and 458,003 crimes against property in that year.
New York abolished the death penalty in 1965 and reinstated it in 1995. No one has been executed under the new law; the last execution in the state occurred under the old law in 1963. No prisoners were under sentence of death as of 2003.