LEGISLATIVE AGENDA

Teens getting free criminal pass?

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It’s time to take another look at how teenagers are treated in the criminal court system, the Bronx’s top prosecutor says, but not because they’re being treated too harshly.

Quite the opposite, actually.

“The Raise the Age Law increased the age for criminal responsibility to 18, and established a youth part in criminal court,” said Bronx district attorney Darcel Clark, in a release. “It was the right decision since New York was one of only two states to still treat youths as adults, and it was designed to protect their lives.

“However, since its inception in 2019, we have seen unexpected consequences that do not promote safety in our community.”

One of the biggest issues is how the law treats older teens held accountable for gun law violations. It’s also allowing repeat offenders to end up back out on the streets.

Clark hopes lawmakers will take teen gun violations out of family court and back into the criminal side. She also wants criminal judges to have access to family court records, especially when it comes to past records.

“We need resources directed toward violence prevention,” Clark said, “and we need to stop the flow of guns into our neighborhoods.”