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Albany must address the deadly surge in youth violence

Albany must address the deadly surge in youth violence

Last week’s fresh wave of youth violence, with two teens killed and at least six more wounded in shootings and stabbings across the city, again flags the failure of Albany’s soft-on-crime approach.

The brazen violence and the young lives snuffed out is horrifying:

  • Mahki Brown, 16, a member of a Brooklyn anti-gun violence group, shot and killed in SoHo by a CitiBike-riding assassin.
  • Three more boys, also 15, slashed in two incidents in Brooklyn and The Bronx.

NYPD data showed that the number of teen shooters and victims in the city tripled from 2017 to 2022 — and that adolescent recidivism is up dramatically.

Part of it is the pandemic — or, rather, the prolonged and extreme Andrew Cuomo-Bill de Blasio lockdowns, which closed sports programs and churches, which (as even progressives understand) are the major off-ramps for kids tempted to join gangs, which of course didn’t close for COVID but kept on recruiting.

Indeed, gang leaders had every reason to up recruiting, thanks to the 2018 Raise the Age law, which sends nearly all teen criminal defendants to Family Court rather than the adult justice system — and doesn’t punish 16- and 17-year-olds caught carrying loaded firearms.

Get the kids to carry the weapons for you, figure the older ‘bangers: If they’re caught, cops and prosecutors have no real way to squeeze them.

More than one in 10 gun arrests were of under-18s last year, “up 120% from 2018, when it was 209,” Mike Lipetri, the NYPD’s chief of crime-control strategies, tells The Post, and, “11% of all shooting victims last year in New York City were under the age of 18. Up 77% from 2018.”

“We have to have consequences,” he adds.

Along with most law-enforcement leaders across the state, Albany District Attorney David Soares has repeatedly blasted Gov. Hochul and the Legislature over Raise the Age, no-bail and other criminal-justice “reforms” that he argues have “normalized” violence in minority communities.

But the Legislature won’t listen.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, in particular, insists that adolescents must be kept out of adult courts but won’t even beef up a family-court system unequipped to handle violent teens, nor make it practical for prosecutors and judges to divert the hard cases to Criminal Court.

Sorry, Carl: The threat of real consequences makes productive alternatives — sports, music, after-school extracurriculars, jobs — more attractive.

Carrots without the stick are just vegetables that too many young people just won’t touch.

The Legislature still has weeks left in this session to finally fix Raise the Age: Act now, before we lose more young people like Sara Rivera, Mahki Brown and Emery Mizell to unchecked teen violence.

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