Recent Gang Shootings And Juvenile Justice In Yakima
Yakima Police Captain Jay Seely is a regular guest on KIT's Morning News and he usually stops by to talk about crime prevent but today his topic is a number of recent gang shootings and retaliations by juveniles.
Capt. Seely says that the gangs realize younger members -15 to 17 years of age - receive a softer, more rehabilitative approach by the state's justice system than older adult members do, so he says the juveniles are more likely to get the gang's shooting assignments.
As in most criminal enterprises, Seely says it is a very small number of individuals that cause the most damage and the same is true with gangs. He says they are aware of the gang members who commit most of the violent crimes and they are the focus of the YPD. Seely says they YPD knows the gangs, they know who the worst of the worst actor are and that's the group the police are going after.
Seely says it can be frustrating when prosecutors don't feel they make make a case or conviction with the evidence available but he acknowledges it's just the way the system works. And he says things could get worse in the future given some legislation that's been introduced in Olympia. The potential impact of legal changes could expand the definition of "juveniles" out to 20 years of age which would allow for a lighter hand of justice on many more criminals and gang members.
The Captain's observation is that the pendulum of public opinion is swinging farther to the left of permissiveness but at some point that will likely change.