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Letter: Crime And Punishment

Your “Raise The Age” story pointed out that 74.4 percent of crimes that 16 and 17-year-olds are arrested for are only minor misdemeanors. Of course, that means that 25.6 percent are felonies---including burglaries, robberies, muggings, assaults, molestations, rapes, torture, and murders. Yet D.A. Kathleen Rice is against arresting, prosecuting and punishing 16 and 17 year-olds as adults for these horrible crimes regardless of the offense. Similarly, Assemblyman Charles Lavine feels that “children should be treated as children regardless of the crime they chose to commit.  

However, I consider the crime committed (and its victim) much more important than the age of the perpetrator.  Presumably, Rice and Lavine would both object to treating the following “youths” as adults: The two 16-year-olds who recently beat an 88-year-old World War II hero to death; the trio of 15, 16, and 17 year-olds who recently shot a visiting Australian baseball player to death because they were “bored”; and the 8-year-old who recently shot his 90-year-old babysitter to death. These were not the acts of innocent children. Assemblyman Lavine said “the treatment youths receive in prison can impact them for the rest of their lives.” Angelo Pinto expressed concern that he “trauma of incarceration damages these children emotionally.” Well, pardon me for asking about the impact, emotions, and trauma of their victims---and the victims’ many loved ones. They are the people who get almost 100 percent of my sympathy, with the rest of it going to innocent future victims if these human monsters are not incarcerated as adults.  Lavine said that 16 & 17 year-old criminals should be given an opportunity to rehabilitate, but what if only 10 percent of those released re-offend?  What gives our Justice system the right to, in effect, sacrifice their future victims?

Richard Siegelman