Northeast Times

Dangers of juvenile crime topic of Stakeholders meeting

Ju­ven­iles as young as 15 years old can get them­selves deep in grown-up trouble in Pennsylvania and find them­selves in pris­on for life, ac­cord­ing to Deputy Dis­trict At­tor­ney George D. Mosee Jr.

And this hap­pens to no small num­ber of young Pennsylvani­ans, he said.

Twenty-five per­cent of all in­mates serving life sen­tences in the United States for murders com­mit­ted when they were ju­ven­iles are in Pennsylvania, Mosee stated. There are more than 500 such in­mates in the com­mon­wealth, said Mosee, the man in charge of pro­sec­ut­ing ju­ven­iles in Phil­adelphia.

There are urb­an myths about kids and crime, he said. Many ju­ven­iles be­lieve they can’t be tried as adults or face adult con­sequences for murder and oth­er ser­i­ous crimes, he told Frank­ford res­id­ents at the March 27 meet­ing of North­east EPIC Stake­hold­ers. They and their fam­il­ies need to wise up, he said.

“Nobody un­der­stands ju­ven­ile justice,” Mosee said. “They don’t know how it works.”

He gave a few ex­amples to res­id­ents gathered in the Second Baptist Church of Frank­ford, Mul­berry and Mead­ow streets.

• A kid who as­saults an­oth­er and steals his bike won’t go to pris­on. He might get com­munity ser­vice or time in a ju­ven­ile fa­cil­ity. If he does it a second time and if he’s 15 years old and ad­ju­dic­ated de­lin­quent, the young crim­in­al goes in­to the adult justice sys­tem.

• If he’s 15 and pulls a gun on some­body dur­ing a rob­bery, for ex­ample, he might be look­ing at five to 10 years in a pris­on for youth­ful of­fend­ers.

• If he’s 15 and is the lookout for some­body else com­mit­ting an armed rob­bery, but he isn’t the per­son with the gun, he might not get man­dat­ory pris­on time. The per­son with the gun is fa­cing tri­al in the adult sys­tem. If the per­son with the gun is 18, he’s look­ing at 3.5 to sev­en years.

“Kids can get up to 47 years,” Mosee said.

• If the 15-year-old is an ac­com­plice in a crime in which someone else kills some­body, he’s look­ing at life in pris­on, Mosee said.

The “old head” who en­lis­ted the 15-year-old’s help told the kid that he would be sent to a ju­ven­ile fa­cil­ity if any­thing went wrong in the crime.

Mosee said the law re­cently re­cog­nized that young teens should be treated dif­fer­ently. Still, he said, in­stead of life, they have to be im­prisoned for at least 35 years.

“If you’re 15 and you have to do 35 years, that is life,” he said. “I’m not talk­ing about scar­ing any­body straight. I’m talk­ing about edu­cat­ing them straight.”

Ju­ven­ile crim­in­al re­cords, Mosee said, can be ex­punged. The crimes, the mis­takes, made by minors don’t have to fol­low through life, but re­cords of those events don’t just dis­ap­pear, he ad­ded. Five years after a ju­ven­ile com­pleted su­per­vi­sion after he or she was judged de­lin­quent, ex­pun­ge­ment can be ap­plied for, Mosee said. 

NEW CO­ORDIN­AT­OR

North­east EPIC Stake­hold­ers, which brings com­munity mem­bers in­form­a­tion about pro­grams and news that af­fects their lives, has a new co­ordin­at­or.

Nafisha Lewis has taken over for Char­lene Lewis, who resigned. She had a pretty good turnout for her first meet­ing. 

Frank­ford res­id­ent Le­on Brant­ley gave a brief talk about the neigh­bor­hood’s rich his­tory.

“Some mem­bers of the young­er gen­er­a­tions don’t know what went on here,” he said.

Eight­eenth-cen­tury bread baker Cyr­us Bust­il is a good ex­ample of one of Frank­ford’s well-known sons, Brant­ley said. 

The baker, who was of mixed white, Afric­an-Amer­ic­an and Nat­ive-Amer­ic­an blood, was loy­al to the Eng­lish crown — a Tory — be­fore he be­came a rebel dur­ing the Amer­ic­an Re­volu­tion, Brant­ley said.

The late Harry Sil­cox, who for years wrote about loc­al his­tory for the North­east Times, said Bust­il provided George Wash­ing­ton’s army with bread as it marched to­ward Trenton. It’s pos­sible “Bustleton” was de­rived from the baker’s sur­name, Sil­cox had said.

Sis­ter Sara Congo, who star­ted a pray­er ser­vice in Frank­ford in the 1800s, is an ex­ample of the Afric­an-Amer­ic­an wo­men who have been the strength of the com­munity, Brant­ley said.

He ad­ded that he hoped clubs would form in Frank­ford to edu­cate the pub­lic about the neigh­bor­hood’s long his­tory and its res­id­ents’ con­tri­bu­tions to the na­tion’s de­vel­op­ment.

Wrap­ping up the meet­ing, Jason Dawkins, who un­til re­cently had been an aide to City Coun­cil­wo­man Maria Quinones Sanc­hez, in­tro­duced him­self as a can­did­ate for the 179th state House dis­trict seat now held by James Clay. The two will face each oth­er in the May 20 Demo­crat­ic Party primary.

Dawkins said pub­lic edu­ca­tion could be fun­ded by tax­ing nat­ur­al gas drilling in up­state Pennsylvania’s Mar­cel­lus Shale. Such taxes, he said, would gen­er­ate $1 bil­lion for edu­ca­tion. ••

You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

comments powered by Disqus