It isn’t enough that Albany has insisted that all 16- and 17-year-olds be tried in family court for almost every crime — now they want to make sure the public and law enforcement never find out about them.
A new bill (S. 3104) sponsored by state Sen. Jabari Brisport (D-Brooklyn) would take the confidentiality protections afforded to young offenders to extremes.
Simply put, the bill says current Family Court confidentiality and sealing of records are insufficient.
Brisport wants the records to be destroyed, so that prosecutors, judges and police will remain ignorant about the violent pasts of the people they arrest and prosecute.
Under the current “Raise the Age” law, teen offenders already start every new crime with a clean slate.
For example, a 16-year-old arrested for possession of a loaded handgun would likely have their case transferred to the Family Court.
Most of these are given a non-judicial termination — such as counseling or another social service.
This case is sealed. So if that same 16-year-old is arrested again for having a loaded gun, the police officer, prosecutor and judge cannot know the details of the previous incident.
That is insufficient for Brisport.
There’s still a record that there was a case, even if it is sealed. The new legislation would, among other things, expunge the entire record.
In effect, the returning gun-toting teen would be a first offender again.
And, possibly, again.
And if a judge, police officer prosecutor or probation officer should recognize the recurrent miscreant and inform the court of the youth’s past, Brisport’s proposal would authorize the filing of a civil action for damages of up to $1,000 as compensation to the gun-toting teen.
Who says crime doesn’t pay?
But the bill does not end there.
It also allows for criminals who been found guilty of the most serious crimes in Family Court can now move to have their records expunged.
In the 1970s, the legislature passed a series of amendments to the Family Court Act and Criminal Procedure Law to hold violent young criminals accountable for their actions.
One of those changes allowed for the creation of “Designated Felony Acts” that focused on 13-, 14-, and 15-year-olds who committed serious crimes like murder, forcible rape, armed robbery, arson and felony assault.
Youths found guilty of those offenses by the Family Court could get enhanced sentences and were ineligible for special “Youthful Offender” safeguards otherwise available from the courts upon a teen’s arrest.
In his new proposal, Brisport wants to allow these most violent of offenders to make a motion to expunge all the records.
In other words, to pretend the crime never happened — unless, of course, you were the victim or the family of someone who was murdered.
What are the Senator’s motives for further handcuffing police, prosecutors and courts as crime rises throughout the City?
Jabari Brisport is the Chair of the powerful Children and Families Committee in the State Senate and, as the person with oversight for juvenile justice matters, should be a key figure in quelling the jump in the City’s youth-driven violence.
In his Bedford-Stuyvesant district, murders nearly doubled from 2017 to 2022, while felony assault arrests rose from 325 to 451. Perhaps the Senator’s method for reducing the number of violent felonies is to merely remove the numbers?
Attorney Peter Reinharz was the Chief Prosecutor in New York City’s Family Courts from 1987-2002. Andrew Stein, a Democrat, served as New York City Council president, 1986-94.
|Read More Latest Crime News From United States & European Countries|