Democratic mayoral candidate Bill Thompson on Tuesday unveiled a proposal that he said would generate millions of dollars in tax revenue and expand opportunities for city youth.
Thompson and Congressman Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica) are calling for the state to end of prosecuting 16- and 17-year-olds as adults. Thompson said this would generate at least $50 milion “a year in foregone wages and millions in lost tax revenue to the state.”
This additional revenue would be used to expand the city’s youth employment summer program.
Thompson’s spokesman John Collins said that raising the age of nonviolent criminal responsibility to 18 years old would give youth an opportunity to turn their lives around.
“Teens are being prosecuted for mild shoving matches in high school hallways, as a result individuals lose opportunities to get certain jobs,” he said.
However, Thompson believes that violent crimes committed by those under 18 should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
Thompson highlights this issue because he hopes to gather enough support among the city’s congressional delegation to make this issue a prioirty on a state level, his spokesperson said.
He also plans on implementing a law enforcement program called the High Point Policing model, which he said would identify and mentor youth heading down a criminal path and give them an opportunity to turn their life around.
“[High Point Policing] is a new era of community policing,” Collins said. “[This program would] expand opportunities [for youth] so they can live a meaningful productive life and not a life a crime.”
The city’s Police Department would team up with community leaders to provide youth from low-income communities the opportunity to gain marketable and transferrable skills and receive financial literacy education.
Thompson says cities that have implemented similar programs have seen a 50 percent reduction in violent and drug-related crimes.
“Ending violence across the city isn’t just about creating safer streets, it’s about expanding opportunity and hope for our young people,” he said.
Thompson is one of several Democrats competing in the Sept. 10 primary.