The number of underage murder suspects has nearly doubled due to a "deficient" juvenile justice system that replaces criminal consequences with minor slaps on the wrist that fail to deter recidivism, New York Police Department officials told the New York Post.
Law enforcement officials pointed blame at the state's "Raise the Age" statute signed by former Governor Andrew Cuomo (D), which took effect in October 2019 and replaced criminal charges with "juvenile reports." The measure also upped the age for underage suspects from 16 to 18 years old to face adult charges.
According to the Raise the Age act, suspects given juvenile reports have their cases tried in family court or the youth part of the county courts. As a result, underage criminals receive lighter sentences, and, in most cases, their records are sealed.
The legislation has resulted in a decline in overall arrests from 5,009 in 2019 to 3,472 in 2022. The number of underage murder suspects increased to 161 between January and September, almost double the number during the same period in 2019, according to NYPD reports.