In 2017, the Legislature raised the age of criminal responsibility to 18; now a bombshell NYPD analysis reveals that the number of teen shooters and victims in NYC has tripled in the five years since.
The Raise the Age law made it nearly impossible to prosecute 16- and 17-year-olds as adults, sending them instead to the Family Court system, which was utterly unprepared to handle the significant numbers of “hard cases,” and still is.
Not by coincidence, just 9.2% of the shooters nabbed-or-named by the NYPD in the first eight months of 2017 were under-18s. In same period in 2022, it was 12.7% of a far larger total, since overall gun crime doubled over those five years.
More teens are getting shot, too, from 5.7% of shooting victims in the 2017 period to 10.9% in the 2022 one. The raw total soared from 36 to 111.
Plus, per the Citizens Crime Commission, the average age at which children first pick up a gun has dropped from 16 or 17 to just 12 or 13. And the NYPD report also notes that teen recidivism has jumped, too.
All this vindicates the alarms raised by Albany County District Attorney David Soares, who waxes grimly eloquent about the Family Court system’s haplessness, noting how even shooters get handed juice and cookie before being sent on their way — and about how judges set impossible standards for sending these perps to Criminal Court instead.
Worse, New York’s organized criminals saw the value of these Get Out of Jail Free cards: Since under-18s face no real consequences for getting caught packing, gangs started recruiting kids.
That is, Raise the Age was an open invitation to create “child soldiers.”
Mind you, back in 2017 both the state and the city bar associations warned that Family Court was the wrong venue for adjudicating serious criminal offenses. But the Legislature and then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo went ahead anyway — and haven’t done remotely enough since then to address the disaster.
Raise the Age had a noble enough intent: Don’t send teens into a criminal-justice system that might turn a casual offender into a hard-core criminal. Problem is, the reform removed all meaningful consequences for teen crime — and so eased the way for under-18s to get caught committing ever-more-serious offenses, becoming more depraved, when real intervention could’ve set them on a better path.
This “reform,” in short, has produced precisely the nightmare it aimed to prevent. Add it to the long list of Albany’s disastrous criminal-justice mistakes.
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