2017-02-17 / Editorial/Opinion

Assembly Puts Politics Before People

On Feb. 14, the New York State Assembly passed legislation (A.4876) that will allow 16 and 17-year-olds to escape criminal prosecution by sending them to Family Court.

At 16, a young person is allowed to drive a car. At 17, with parental consent, a young person can join the military and go to war.

Why does the State Assembly think that 16 or 17 year olds shouldn’t be tried as adults for violent crimes?

We get that first-time non-violent offenders who get pinched for quality of life crimes should be dealt with differently, but as Nassau County Assemblyman Brian Curran put it, to argue that felons do not belong in jail because they are just short of 18 years old is reprehensible.”

Curran says he is opposed to the legislation and argues that Assembly Bill A.4876 “endangers the welfare of the public in specific ways. District attorneys are not privy to Family Court records and thus will not be aware of previous criminal records. Having no knowledge of a troubled past, a DA may be more willing to be lenient for a ‘first offense’ when in reality those individuals have had too many chances.”

Curran also points out that when a case is tried in criminal court, the victims have the right to address the court, to be informed at every stage of the trial and to be fully compensated for their loss. Cases tried in Family Court do not necessarily allow the victim these rights, meaning that they may not be heard and may not have the ability to seek reparation.

So why is The Wave quoting a Nassau County Assemblyman? Because both of Rockaway’s Assembly Members, Michelle Titus and Stacey Pheffer Amato – who voted in favor of Assembly Bill A.4876 – chose not to. Titus’ Rockaway office told us to call Albany and the Albany office told us to call the district office. Pheffer- Amato confirmed her “yea” vote through a spokesperson, but declined to comment.

Being tried as an adult for a felony is a hard lesson, but in the words of Sammy Davis Jr., “don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.” Law-abiding citizens deserve better from our lawmakers.

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