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 editboard@nyunews.com. 

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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