EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

January 21, 2014

Bill treats 17-year-old offenders as juveniles

Law enforcement critical of legislation

(Continued)

“I think it’s a terrible idea,” he said. “I saw when it used to be 18 and 17-year-olds got into some major trouble. Whenever we had to treat them as juveniles, they likely got a slap on the wrist.

Coyle recalled a case in the mid-1990s when a 17-year-old and his 18-year-old companions beat and robbed a stranger, severely injuring the victim.

“It was pretty horrific,” he said. “The 17-year-old walked away and his co-defendants went to prison.”

Of the 17 lawmakers who voted against the bill, only two are from Southern New Hampshire. They are Rep. Mary Allen, R-Newton, and Rep. John Sytek, R-Salem.

Sytek said society is best served under the current law. As a bail commissioner and retired Salem High School teacher, Sytek said he’s familiar with the habits of criminals and teenagers.

He said he’s concerned about criminals crossing the state border to commit crimes.

“We will be a magnet for petty crimes,” Sytek said.

He said a one-year gap in age usually doesn’t make much of a difference when it involves someone committing a crime.

“These people know right from wrong,” he said. “They are a year away from voting.”

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