Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Black Teens Involved in NYU Student Murder Get a Slap on the Wrist

The black teens involved in robbing and chasing a white NYU student into an oncoming car are to be tried as juveniles rather than adults. What does this mean?

The effect of the transfer is that the teens, who faced nine years to life in prison if they had been convicted as adults, now face a maximum initial sentence of five years "restrictive placement" if convicted in Family Court, said Larry Busching, head of the city Law Department's Family Court Division.

In commentary from Mens News Daily, Jim Kouri describes how black-on-white crime is rarely recorded as a hate crime:

One NYPD police officer said, on condition of anonymity, “This is a travesty. These street punks are getting a slap on the wrist. They did complete a felony — assault — when they grabbed the student and punched him. They just didn’t want to throw the book at these kids.”

He also said, “They didn’t want to charge them with a bias crime because they don’t want the [crime] stats to show a black-on-white bias crime. You can be sure if the roles were reversed — if it were a white-on-black incident — it would have been treated as a bias crime,” he said.

So, when you see ludicrous posters like this which state absurdities such as "80% of all hate crimes are committed by straight white men under 23," just remember all the victims like Broderick Hehman, the 20-year-old NYU student, who never got a chance to tell his side of the story.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


You ask: "The black teens involved in robbing and chasing a white NYU student into an oncoming car are to be tried as juveniles rather than adults. What does this mean?"

The article tells you what it means:

"But Seidemann said a "quirk" in state law bars prosecution of 13-year-olds for felony murder in any circumstance, and youths under 16 may not be charged with felony murder if the other crime — in this case, the robbery — was attempted but not completed."

So, what's your beef? Disagree with the state law?

3:33 PM, April 19, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...

anonymous 3:33:

Yes, I disagree with the state law and as, the police officer said, a crime was completed--assault, which means that the 15 -year-old youths could have been been charged but were not.

4:38 PM, April 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Can you make the case they should be tried as adults and not minors? What is it?

Are you charging the prosecutor with failure to properly carry out his duties?

4:57 PM, April 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous @ 4:57:

I don't know whether the prosecutor properly carried out his or her duties but I do believe that, at a minimum, the prosecutor yielded to political pressure or exercised poor judgment.

5:40 PM, April 19, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...

anonymous 4:57,

Let me spell it out for you.The prosecutor made a decision not to try the teens in adult criminal court, but rather in juvenile court. This decision (from the article) was based on state law that said that a felony had to be completed. The prosecutor said the robbery had not been completed since the NYU student ran (since his attackers were running at him from all sides). However, the teens had previously assaulted him which should have been considered a completed felony, which would have allowed the 15 year olds to be tried in adult criminal court. The police officer in the case, not me, said that the assault should have counted as a felony--and that the prosecutor did not pursue this due to "not wanting to throw the book at them" according to the officer. I do not think politics should get in the way of justice in this case and that is exactly what I believe happened.

8:07 PM, April 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


You can spell. Good.

The accused are minors. So, how about telling us why they should be tried as adults and not minors. You haven't made your case. Do you have one?

9:20 PM, April 19, 2006  
Blogger Greg Kuperberg said...

For all I know, these defendants deserve to be in prison for a long time; I don't know all of the details of the case and there are a variety of ways to argue appropriate prison sentences for any given crime anyway. However, there is a very simple and appropriate reason to try these people as juveniles. Namely, they are juveniles. According to the article, two of them are 13 and two are 15. That is not even close to the dividing line between childhood and adulthood. Two of them are just in junior high school, unless they skipped a grade.

Maybe there should be a gray area in which older teenagers who accept and abuse adult responsibilities — for example a 17-year-old who owns his own business and is caught stealing — could be charged as adults. But there is no gray area in this case. Merely committing a crime, especially an idiotic and senseless crime like chasing a random stranger into traffic, is not remotely a sign of maturity. For all the talk of "truth in sentencing", many of its advocates actually want falsehood, if it leads to a longer prison sentence. People should be tried as what they are, not as what we wish that they were because we hate them. That is the real difference between crass politics and fair justice.

10:17 PM, April 19, 2006  
Blogger DRJ said...

In the past, juveniles committed primarily crimes of mischief, trespassing, simple vandalism, and the like. Certainly there were exceptions but, as a rule, minors didn't commit "adult" crimes. With the advent of younger offenders committing more serious crimes, the justice system responded by classifying juveniles as adults and trying them in adult courts. It was an imperfect solution designed to deal with a serious and growing problem.

More recently, younger juvenile offenders have been treated as adults because they are committing adult crimes at younger ages. It offends people to see 13-year-olds treated as adults but often they should be because they are committing adult crimes.

10:43 PM, April 19, 2006  
Blogger DRJ said...


The impression I get from your comment is that you believe you have a point of view that is significantly different from the statements typically made here. There are people with varying points of view who comment here, but if you feel your viewpoint isn't being presented and if you are open to reasonable discussion, I suggest you jump in.

10:53 PM, April 19, 2006  
Blogger Greg Kuperberg said...

DRJ: There is no such thing as an "adult" crime, because crime has nothing to do with adulthood. Most crime is essentially a sign of immaturity. It's the opposite of proving that you're an adult.

If more children are committing serious crimes, it does not mean that there is some enemy nation of children that must be taught a lesson. All it shows is that their parents aren't supervising them, and that they have more access to weapons. Ever longer prison sentences won't stop next year's children from making the same mistakes, if they aren't supervised and they have too easy access to weapons as well.

You should not excuse false justice as an "imperfect solution". It is worse than slightly off; it is playing with fire. Once the courts start to treat people as what they are not, they are liable to do more of it. We already have children tried as if they were adults and schizophrenics tried as if they were sane. How would you like to be tried as a recidivist, even if you have a clean record? Society is not above treating you that way, if it is angry enough about the charges before you.

11:10 PM, April 19, 2006  
Blogger Greg Kuperberg said...

mbiologist: I think that you have a fair point that Glenn and Helen cater to conservatives, and to zealous but pseudo-conservative Republicans, more than they quite realize. But they have another side. And I think that their interview with Harold Ford proves both points. They were perfectly fair to Ford and they showed intellectual courage in choosing to interview him. But some of the comments about Ford from their regular readers were just disgraceful.

On the other hand, I'm not completely sure about your comment about Andrew Sullivan. Is it that he's a more reasonable conservative or Republican, or that he's in effect less Republican? These are very polarizing times. A lot of people — people like Anthony Zinni and Bruce Babbitt — have been thrown out of the Republican tent for breaking ranks.

11:22 PM, April 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


The difference between the juvenile justice system and the regular criminal justice system is that the first focuses on rehabilitation, the second on punishment. What I believe, and what I think Helen is saying, is that while some kids commit crimes that are more juvenile mistakes requiring rehabilitation, this crime was cold-blooded and requires societal condemnation and punishment.

NYU students should be rallying in Washington Square Park chanting "No justice, no peace!" It would be correct and funny.

11:23 PM, April 19, 2006  
Blogger Greg Kuperberg said...

brian: But children are just as capable of being "cold-blooded" as adults. The difference is that they are usually supervised, at least off and on; they usually give away their game; and they don't usually have access to deadly weapons. It just comes down to the same thing — either the defendants are juveniles or they aren't. The juvenile justice system can perfectly well be "designed" for punishment, and indeed it already is. Maybe five years in prison isn't enough punishment — I said that I wasn't going to speculate — but it certainly is a punishment.

As for social condemnation, well please go ahead and condemn it. Even if the perpentrators were 3 years old, it would still deserve condemnation. That has nothing to do with how the defendants are tried.

11:40 PM, April 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I THOUGHT Helen's original point -- and gripe -- was that this whole incident was swept under the rug because it was black on white crime. She saw it as a race issue, not an issue of juvenile v. adult.

11:43 PM, April 19, 2006  
Blogger DRJ said...

Greg K,

I think you know what I meant when I said "adult" crime. I was referring to crimes that are more dangerous and as a result are subject to more severe penalties. Obviously the criminal justice system doesn't explicitly have an adult section and a kiddie section, as if it were some kind of Blockbuster Video store. But it is equally obvious that a division was made between juvenile and adult crime when the juvenile justice system was implemented. Instead of changing the juvenile justice system to deal with serious crimes committed by minors, the system reclassifies juveniles as adults when they are alleged to have committed such crimes. It is a fiction the system engages in to permit trial and punishment of juveniles who commit serious crimes.

I do not belive that all juvenile crime is committed by children who have made a mistake, who are immature, or who have been improperly supervised. Some offenders are mean, cruel and dangerous. They choose to hurt others or steal property. The criminal justice system should be flexible enough to identify these offenders and deal with them, if for no other reason than to protect society as a whole. We generally do that with minors by classifying them as adults and subjecting them to more substantial penalties.

Apparently you believe that these offenders are immature, improperly supervised, or made a mistake. You may be right. I believe that their actions demonstrate they are mean, cruel and dangerous. Some commenters here would agree with you and some would agree with me. I'm guessing the prosecutor agreed with you.

All justice is imperfect. In fact, our justice system doesn't even promise justice. It promises due process - an opportunity to be heard and to have a fair hearing. (You'll have to go to socialist and communist countries to find a system that promises justice, but that can mean whatever they want it to mean. In some of these countries, the case is over after the prosecution puts on its case because the court is convinced the defendant must be guilty. The defense doesn't even have a chance to present evidence or cross-examine witnesses.) In America, our justice system is admittedly flawed but we constantly try to make it work better. I'll take it any day.

11:51 PM, April 19, 2006  
Blogger Greg Kuperberg said...

[Trying juveniles as adults] is a fiction the system engages in to permit trial and punishment of juveniles who commit serious crimes.

I understand that it has a purpose. I maintain that fiction makes bad government, even when it comes with good intentions.

I do not belive that all juvenile crime is committed by children who have made a mistake, who are immature, or who have been improperly supervised.

I don't either. I was responding to your claim that there is more juvenile crime now than before, and I meant "supervision" as a part of upbringing in general. Because, if more children commit crimes, what else could have changed other than their upbringing? I assume that you don't think that criminality is a contagious disease that they got from the water.

In America, our justice system is admittedly flawed but we constantly try to make it work better.

I agree that American justice has some strengths, but that we should work to make it better. If I didn't want to make it better, I would never have joined this discussion. We should uphold justice by upholding the truth.

12:04 AM, April 20, 2006  
Blogger DRJ said...


I'm glad we're finding some common ground. The only caveat I would add concerns your statement that I said there is more juvenile crime now than before. If I said that, I didn't mean it that way. My point was that there are more serious crimes committed by juveniles than before. That is, more minors are committing crimes like assault, rape, and murder. I did not mean to say and I don't believe that there are more juvenile offenders per capita than 40+ years ago.

Anonymous @ 11:43:

You have a good point - Dr. Helen's post about this case suggests black-on-white crime is treated differently. But to me this has become a general discussion of the mechanics of the justice system and since the prosecutor refuses to label this as a hate crime or to seek to try the defendants as adults, I agree with Dr. Helen that these defendants are getting the equivalent of a slap on the wrist.

12:39 AM, April 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When you read the statistics on racial crime and find that 85% of the racial crime is being committed by black on white, you know just how much the so-called hate crime stats are being manipulated. (BYW, you will never see that stat in the major media. They almost never report black on white crime, and, when they do, the race or color is never mentioned.)

From the book:
A black is about 39 times more likely to do violence to a white than the other way around, and no less than 130 times more likely to rob a white.

And yes, everyone's suspicions about rape are correct: Every year there are about 15,000 black-on-white rapes but fewer than 900 white-on-black rapes. There are more than 3,000 gang rapes of whites by blacks—but white-on-black gang rapes are so rare they do not even show up in the statistics.

9:31 AM, April 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Greg Kuperberg

You said:
All it shows is that their parents aren't supervising them, and that they have more access to weapons.

when I was a child, all children had easy access to weapons, and almost no so-called juvenile adult crime occurred. Why don't you get your facts straight before you spout the accepted liberal, elitists, do-gooders, false rhetoric. Len

9:41 AM, April 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since when was Bruce Babbit a Republican?

9:55 AM, April 20, 2006  
Blogger Greg Kuperberg said...

Anonymous: I stand corrected; I meant Bruce Bartlett.

11:41 AM, April 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We already have children tried as if they were adults and schizophrenics tried as if they were sane.

Greg, we can't view this phenomenon from only a defendant-centric position. DRJ's concept of juvenile versus adult crime is an examination from a victim/society-centric viewpoint. Ultimately, if our only concern is for the defendant, then we should have no police or justice system, but we do have them, because ultimately, their purpose is to protect society and its citizens from criminals. The question to be asking here is, why do we have separate adult and juvenile court systems? Given that the entire system exists to protect society, the differential threat to society of juvenile versus adult offenders has to be a major part of the reason for two systems. Both systems have the same standards regarding due process, rules of evidence, etc., so both at least ostensibly protect the rights of the accused equally. Thus, the issue in whether to try one as a juvenile seems to be primarily about society's interests, not the defendant's. Obviously, there is no meaningful difference between someone 17 years, 364 days old and someone 18 years old, so a rational basis for choosing where to try a defendant needs to have some basis beyond mere chronological age. When a defendant represents an adult threat to society, that seems like a reasonable criteria for charging him/her as an adult. Also, if you truly believe that race politics played no role in the decision not to at least PURSUE adult charges (the court could always deny it)
the I have a nice bridge to sell you .

You're correct, though, in objecting to the dishonesty of creating exceptions to our own system of rules. If the realities of the times have us continually carving out exceptions, maybe the rules need to change. Maybe we need the law to define adult vs. juvenile crimes.

1:54 PM, April 20, 2006  
Blogger Mercurior said...

its different in the UK, at least a bit, there are rules about the ages, but there are also rules about the severity of the crime which is taken into account.

a kid under 14 can break into a house and steal, and gets probation maybe even sent to an approved home, or borstal. someone over 16 same crime would be sent to prison. a kid that murders a child, they get put in prison because of the severity. the bulger case, the judge said the time that had to be served, the home office increased it. but as a child themselves they got lesser time, than say an adult in the same situation.

severity of the crime should be linked to age. it generally is in the UK. it shouldnt really be about race, crime is crime. but there is a victim mentality in so many areas, even in mens rights. we cant claim that blacks kill or rape more white people because that would create a negativity towards blacks, and cause violence, the white male is now an easy target for blame.

crime should be colour blind.

4:20 AM, April 21, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mercurior, help us colonials - what's a borstal?

2:43 PM, April 21, 2006  
Blogger Mercurior said...

Borstal was a juvenile detention centre or reformatory, an institution of the criminal justice system, intended to reform delinquent male youths aged between about 16 and 21.

however they expanded the category to have girl reform schools, they changed it to youth custody centres. but everyone still knows them as borstals

3:25 PM, April 21, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i knew denzel fell me and him where in the same class i would like to know whats his jail sentence

11:27 PM, September 14, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems that the Family Court Judge has given Denzel Fell 18 months in a secure ACS (Administration for Children's Services) facility -- apparently the stiffest entence available under the circumstance and NY State Law.

11:03 AM, October 04, 2006  
Blogger Misanthrope said...

A couple of things this post reminded me of (yes, I am reading the complete Dr. Helen Archives); from Robert Heinlein there is no such thing as a juvenile deliquent. You can't be delinquent unless you have responsibilities, which juveniles don't.

The second is that it is a racial position. How many times do we hear about whites attacking minorities as hate crimes, but not the opposite? In 2000-2001 there was the trial of the (black) Carr brothers in Wichita, who robbed and killed some 13 white victims. (One of the survivors was raped as was her roommate, fiance, and roommates boyfriend, shot in the head, then run over by a car. She crawled a mile through the snow to the nearest house to get help. Her life was saved when the 9mm bullit was deflected by her hair beret.)

Despite specific anti-white statements, the DA decided it wasn't a racially motivated crime. Right...and there's a shiny Bentley parked outside with my name on it.

6:55 PM, October 03, 2007  
Blogger aj4lyfe said...

I think its messed up if they are charged as adults one they are teens and its not like they did it on purpose and pushed him in front of the car it was an accident they should be charged as minors. if it was the other way around they would probably not even be questioniing if they should be charge as adults its some screwed up crap it ain't right.

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