Last week, 16-year-old Angellyh Yambo, while walking home from University Prep Charter School, was shot and killed with two others wounded. It was the result of a gun fight between two young people.
A 17-year-old was charged with the murder and is currently in police custody.
Some elected officials have tied the shootings to not only bail reform, but the recently implemented Raise the Age laws.
Passed on April 10, 2017, the legislation raised the age that a kid that could be tried in court as an adult to 18 years old. Misdemeanor charges go to family court. Nonviolent felonies go to a newly established youth section of criminal court.
Ever since its implementation, the law has been used as a cudgel by political conservatives to toughen their stance about liberal elected officials not being “tough on crime.”
NY GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy said that the recent shooting in the Bronx is an example of catching them when they’re young.
“The shooter had a history with guns and gangs going back to the age of 12, which is sadly too often the reality,” said Langworthy. “Albany Democrats have focused all of their energy on making it easier to commit crimes without any regard for the innocent lives being destroyed they are responsible for. This public safety nightmare they created, and they must be held accountable in the voting booth this November.”
In the delayed, but eventually passed, state budget, conservatives were able to close alleged “loopholes” in Raise the Age laws concerning gun violence despite pushback by New York State Gov. Kathy Hochul and Albany Democrats. The fight against the rollbacks earned the praise of activists’ groups and formerly elected officials.
Hochul said the “loophole” would provide Family Court with jurisdiction over cases when 16- and 17-year-olds are charged with an offense but not arraigned until they are 18. Cases are dismissed due to lack of jurisdiction.
According to the new budget, courts will also be required to provide referrals to programs and services to juveniles who are being released.
“The Raise the Age NY Coalition is grateful for our champions in the New York State Senate and Assembly who have stood up for New York’s young people and fought for a more equitable criminal justice system during these negotiations,” stated Nichola Greenblatt of the Raise the Age Coalition. “As New York’s elected leaders look ahead, they must focus on real solutions that address the root causes of violence and are grounded in public health. It is imperative our elected leaders continue to protect Raise the Age and resist fear-based efforts to roll back the law during the upcoming legislative session.
“Now, the governor must ensure that New York fully funds Raise the Age implementation, making certain resources reach counties quickly to support community-based organizations that directly serve our youth and communities,” continued Greenblatt.
Former New York State Assembly Member and Democratic National Committee Vice Chair Michael Blake said that he was opposed to any changes that were based on emotion and not numbers.
“I’m still opposed to the changes because they weren’t rooted in data showing the connection, rather fearmongering and false narratives leading to purely political considerations going into the 2022 elections,” said Blake. “Yes, you always have very unfortunate and tragic situations like the recent shootings in the Bronx and in the city. However, empowering judicial discretion and rolling back bail creates a very slippery slope that incarcerated more Black and Brown people.”
Last week, statistics revealed that shootings increased by 16.2% in March of 2022 when compared to the same time last year.
Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson preferred to put the recent tragedies under the umbrella of gun violence and not Raise the Age.
“As I have always said, the level of violence we are seeing in our neighborhoods is not normal and is unacceptable,” Gibson stated. “Our community has a fundamental right and expectation to be safe and should not have to fear incessant gun violence. I pray that the person or people responsible are caught and held accountable for their actions. I also want to send prayers of healing and strength to the families of the victims during this very difficult time.”