Onondaga County District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick has joined other law enforcement officials across the state in recent days who are criticizing "raise the age" legislation that’s being debated in Albany.
Raise the age would take 16- and 17-year-olds accused of certain crimes out of the adult justice system and into family court. Advocates say dumping teens into the adult criminal justice system makes it much harder for them to get their life back on track.
But Fitzpatrick says from a public safety perspective, it’s dangerous. He says it would hamper police investigations, keep individuals off of sexual predator lists and place these youths in a system -- family court -- that isn’t designed to deal with these kinds of offenders.
“They’re not little shoplifters or fare beaters, they’re gangsters, they’re murderers, they’re rapists, they're burglars, they’re violent thugs and they don’t deserve to receive a pass from the New York State Legislature," Fitzpatrick said.
At a press conference Friday, Fitzpatrick flipped through a number of social media posts in Syracuse that show 15-, 16- and 17-year-olds all holding what look like real firearms.
"They’re not holding popsicles, they’re not holding pellet guns," Fitzpatrick said. "They’re holding MAC-10s and Glocks and other things that can cause death and destruction.”
Fitzpatrick says prosecutors across the state are willing to talk to state officials about programs to help teens caught up in the adult criminal justice system. But for now he wants central New Yorkers to call their legislators and ask them not to support this particular Raise the Age proposal.
The proposed legislation is part of the current budget negotiations Albany.