2005-07-08 / Editorial/Opinion

Poster Boy For Dysfunctional Juvenile Justice System

Nicholas Minucci is receiving his fifteen minutes of fame as the racially-motivated thug who beat a black man senseless with a metal baseball bat in Howard Beach last week. With his bling, including a $6,000 diamond-encrusted Rolex watch, his $4,000 gold medallion and his $60,000 Cadillac Escalade, he has become the new poster boy for the Howard Beach stereotypical Italian thug. Minucci is unemployed. His mother, who reportedly gave him the watch as a present, is unemployed and on disability. More importantly, to society, however, Minucci is the poster boy for a dysfunctional juvenile justice system that is based on the archaic idea that there are no bad children and that every child can be rehabilitated if given the chance by society. As Sportin Life once said, “It ain’t necessarily so.” We don’t know much about Minucci’s early criminal life, and neither will the court adjudicating his latest transgression. That’s because juvenile criminal records are sealed on the theory that nothing a child does should be counted against him or her as an adult. In a society where 11 year olds kill their playmates and 15 year olds are involved in serial shootings, that old standard just no longer holds and Minucci is a prime example. On September 11, 2001, as the smoke poured from the empty hole that was one the World Trade Center, Minucci and his friends went looking for Muslims to beat up. What he found was a Sikh with a turban. Having dropped out of high school after two years, Minucci did not know the difference between a Sikh and a Muslim, so he attacked the man, beating him severely. He was found guilty, but because he was a teenager, the sentence was a light one. The case was later appealed and overturned on a technicality. In November of 2002, barely a year later, Minucci and a group of his friends roared into a Broad Channel marina where some local teens were having a party. The intrusion of “outsiders” who were reportedly looking for trouble led to a fight and the stabbing of Broad Channel teen John Rich. The local youth was stabbed repeatedly with a serrated knife. He managed to stagger home to West 14 Road. His parents called the police and he was rushed to the hospital. Minucci was identified by Rich and arrested. Unfortunately, Rich died under the wheels of a subway train in Rockaway, allegedly after a night of drinking, before he could testify. Because the chief accuser was dead, the District Attorney’s office opted for a plea that brought five years of probation and no punishment, leaving Minucci on the street doing his thing. More than unfortunately, you can multiply Minucci’s story by a thousand and then you can understand something about the crime problem in Rockaway. There are bad kids and they need to be punished early for their misdeeds, something only the state legislature can deal with. They should get on with the job.

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