According to NYPD officials, New York City is suffering from a deficient juvenile criminal justice system that is failing to address the rise in underage offenders. There was a stark increase in violence from New York City youths in 2021 and 2022. NYPD officials told the NY Post that there was a “twofold jump” in teenage killers.
New York State authorities cite the “Raise the Age” law as a reason for the decline in arrests and the increase in repeat juvenile offenders. Many have criticized the statute as it reduces consequences for underage offenders.
In an exclusive interview with the NY Post, NYPD Assistant Commissioner Kevin O’Conner said, “We’re not even giving them a little timeout, so to speak. And that’s where Raise the Age is really failing our kids. The recidivism is skyrocketing.”
Prior to the interview with the NY Post, Commissioner Keechant Sewell discussed the topic at the annual State of the NYPD speech in Manhattan. Notably, she stated that the current system was “deficient in meaningful intervention for our youth.”
At the State of the NYPD speech, Commissioner Sewell said, “One of the most troubling trends we saw in 2022 was a spike in the number of individuals under the age of 18 involved in shootings, either as the victim or the one pulling the trigger, and it continues. With the violence we are seeing from and against our teenagers every day we must ask ourselves, ‘Are the road signs to the off-ramps to criminality not well lit? Or are the letters too small? Is the view obstructed? Are the instructions too vague? Or is the path too narrow?’ The NYPD knows how to fight crime, and we are doing it now. We will continue to advocate for the legislative amendments that we need to continue to drive down crime, and hold violent criminals and those who prey on the people and businesses of this city accountable.”
Data from the NYPD show that the number of underage homicide offenders practically doubled, jumping to 161 between January and September 2022, when compared to the same period prior to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019.
The statute, which was signed by former Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2017 and took effect in 2019, raised the age in which a teenager faced adult charges from 16 to 18. Once in place, data from the NYPD show a substantial decrease in arrests for teenage suspects.
Rather than be tried as an adult, violent youths have their cases heard in family court, with lighter sentencing and records being sealed. O’Conner stated that the current system allows for there to be no accountability as there is little to no punishment for their actions.
When discussing the topic, Manhattan defense attorney Mark Bederow said, “Anybody who is prosecuted as a juvenile is not going to be facing the same penalties and the same consequences and if they are not properly provided services and life skills, there is always a greater chance they could end up doing something again. I think that is clear.”
He continued, “That is the reality of how the system is created.”
In 2022, one in 10 victims of shooting in New York City were under the age of 18.
An individual in law enforcement who chose to stay anonymous told the NY Post, “when a kid is arrested with a gun and gets out in time for dinner, it sends a message to all of his friends who might be on the margins. That message says, ‘Pick up that gun. There are no consequences,’ That way of thinking then spreads like an infection. And the problem of youth violence becomes exponentially greater. The cruel irony is that the communities these politicians falsely purport to protect, are the communities cleaning the blood of children off their streets.”
LittleAfrica News has repeatedly reported the increase in crime, particularly underage offenders and victims