Thursday, Jul 31, 2014 01:34 pm est

Brooklyn bus shooter should be tried as a juvenile

Posted on March 24, 2014 | by WSN Editorial Board

On the B15 bus near Lafayette Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Kathon Anderson — a 14-year-old boy — allegedly shot and killed an innocent bystander in what is thought to be gang-related violence. The victim’s name was Angel Rojas, a 39-year-old father from East Flatbush. The Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office charged the teen with second-degree murder and ordered that he stand trial as an adult. An adult court is an inappropriate venue for Anderson’s trial, and it will fail to provide him with the safeguards and care to which he is entitled under international law. If found guilty, he will also be commingled with adult offenders in a high security prison where little to no attention will be put on rehabilitation. No child should be the subject of adult criminal proceedings, no matter the crime.

This opinion is not to be delivered lightly, as an innocent man’s death stands at the center of this crime. Rojas was taken from his wife and children far too young. The 14-year-old allegedly made tremendously poor choices, which Rojas — by virtue of happenstance on the B15 bus — was unjustly forced to pay for with his life. Anderson should undoubtedly stand trial for the charges of second-degree murder, criminal use of a firearm and criminal possession of a weapon, and he deserves to be punished for these crimes. If he is indeed guilty, the gravity of Anderson’s transgressions are unmistakable, and Rojas and his family deserve justice for this senseless violence.

Despite these reservations, research and statistics demonstrate that Anderson should be given a juvenile trial. Juvenile detention centers were first introduced to the U.S. criminal justice system in the early 19th century and gained widespread use following research showing the benefits of focusing on rehabilitation rather than punishment for young convicted criminals. Studies continue to show that juvenile offenders who are tried as adults and subsequently sentenced to time in adult prisons are exposed to significantly more violence. One report revealed that the percentage of attacks with a weapon against juveniles in prison increased by 8.4 percent and another established that sexual assault was five times more common in adult prisons.

The consequences of a judicial system based on punishment rather than rehabilitation are tangible. Minors transferred to adult prisons are 32 percent more likely to commit felonies after release than those who remained in juvenile detention facilities. Anderson should stand trial for his alleged actions, but the resources of our criminal justice system would be more effective if they focused on reforming juveniles in specialized facilities rather than subjecting them to an environment which would likely cause them to reoffend.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, March 24 print edition. Email the WSN Editorial Board at 


profile portrait
Felipe De La Hoz

Multimedia Editor | Felipe De La Hoz is a Colombian national studying journalism at the College of Arts and Sciences. Having been born in Colombia and raised in the United States, Mexico and Brazil, Felipe is a trilingual travel aficionado and enjoys working in varied and difficult environments. Apart from his photography, Felipe enjoys investigative reporting and interviews, interviewing the likes of Colombian ex-M-19 guerrilla fighters and controversial politician Jimmy McMillan. He has covered everything from governmental conferences to full-blown riots, as well as portraiture shoots and dining photography. Having worked under Brazilian photojournalists for Reuters and AFP, Felipe hopes to one day work on demanding journalistic projects and contribute to the global news cycle.

Ann Schmidt

News Editor | Ann is a liberal studies sophomore who lived in Florence during her freshman year. She plans on double-majoring in journalism and political science and is always busy. She is constantly making lists and she loves to laugh.


Daniel Yeom

Daniel started at the Features desk of WSN last Spring, writing restaurant reviews whilst indulging on free food and consequently getting fat. Last Fall, he was the dining editor, and he this semester he is senior editor. Daniel is in Gallatin (living the dream) studying Food & Travel Narratives, incorporating aspects of Food Studies, Journalism, and Media, Culture, and Communication. He loves food more than life itself.

Hannah Luu

Deputy Multimedia Editor | Hannah Luu is a ridiculously great Deputy Multimedia Editor. She is a sophomore from Northern California. If you think Northern California means San Francisco you might need to closely examine a map. She is passionate about NPR and being half Asian.

  • How to join:

    The Washington Square News holds open weekly budget meetings at its office located at 838 Broadway every Sunday. All are welcome to attend, no matter your background in journalism, writing, or reporting. Specific times for meetings by desk are listed below. If you wish to talk to an editor before you attend, feel free to check out the Staff page.

    5 P.M. 6 P.M. 6 P.M. 6:30 P.M. 6:30 P.M. 7 P.M.

    Applying for an editor position: Applications for editor positions during the fall or spring semesters are available twice each academic year and can be found here when posted. Applications for the Fall 2012 semester are closed, but check back for Spring 2013. Those who wish to apply are urged to publish pieces in the newspaper and contact current editors for shadowing.

    History of the Washington Square News:

    The Washington Square News is the official daily student newspaper of New York University and serves the NYU, Greenwich Village, and East Village communities. Founded as an independent newspaper in 1973, the WSN allows its undergraduate writers and photographers to cover campus and city news and continues to grow its strong body of award-winning journalists and photographers.

  • The WSN has a circulation of about 60,000 and can be found in over a hundred purple bins distributed throughout campus. It is published Monday through Thursday during the fall and spring semesters and online on Friday, with additional special issues published in the summer. The newspaper recently revamped its website during the Fall 2012 semester.

    Like few campus newspapers in the country, the paper is editorially and financially independent from the university and is solely responsible for selling advertisements to fund its production. The WSN, including its senior staff, is run solely by current undergraduate students and the business-division is largely student-operated as well.

    A Board of Directors comprised of alumni, NYU professors and working news media professionals serves as advisors to the paper. Board members have no control in the WSN's editorial policy or newsroom operations. Alumni of the newspaper are established and leading journalists in such news organizations as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, NBC news, ABC news, Fox News, and USA Today.