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Opinion

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Daily Point

‘Raise the age’ may rise this session

As the state budget deadline draws near, the stars are aligning to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 18.

Sen. Jeff Klein, leader of the increasingly influential Independent Democratic Conference, told The Point that this is one of the IDC’s top priorities. Also, he said, it’s just a first step toward a statewide change in how New York handles youthful offenders, and Suffolk County is his model.

Klein said he met with state Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho about Suffolk County’s youth court in Central Islip, which offers many teenagers rehabilitative treatment instead of incarceration. The IDC says this not only saves money, but helps young people turn their lives around.

New York is one of just two states that automatically prosecute 16- and 17-year-olds as adults for serious crimes. “I want their cases heard in Family Court,” Klein said, with judges trained in social services and intervention treatment.

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan blocked a “raise the age” measure last year. However, this year, the Senate held a four-hour hearing on the issue — a major breakthrough. And the Assembly has passed a “raise the age” bill this session for the first time in many years.

“Senator Flanagan has been very open about talking about this issue,” Klein said. “We’re in a good place.”

Anne Michaud

Talking Point

The little village that can’t

Give Mastic Beach Village credit for consistency. It has been spectacularly dysfunctional from start to finish.

Since it incorporated and elected its first officials in November 2010, Mastic Beach has had three mayors, six treasurers, five attorneys and three clerks. Infighting among board trustees has been fierce and public meetings often unruly. And nothing has changed, even with the village slated to dissolve by year’s end after residents voted four months ago to disband it.

That didn’t stop the village board from filing suit on Monday to remove one of its members, Christopher Anderson, for allegedly sharing confidential information and documents, among other claims. It didn’t stop Anderson, who is running to retain his seat in the village’s last election on March 21, from telling Newsday the suit is “all lies” and an attempt to “smear” his campaign. Anderson says the board has ejected him from four executive sessions. And last week, another board member resigned.

Mastic Beach Village might be limping to the finish line, but it continues to march there to the beat of its own discordant drummer.

Michael Dobie

Pencil Point

I spy with my little eye ...

Pointing Out

On your honor

President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban, like the first one, still includes a brief clause directing the federal government to collect and publish the number of “honor killings” in the United States by “foreign nationals.”

The concern of immigration advocacy groups is that this data, like his proposed Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement office, will be used to whip up more anti-immigrant sentiment.

There are questions about how you define an “honor killing,” a term that appears loaded with anti-Muslim sentiment. Other ethnic groups have been known to commit such crimes of passion, as the viewers of various horror movies and melodramas know well.

Fueling these concerns, the executive order directs the Department of Homeland Security to collect the information, not the FBI, the congressionally authorized national clearinghouse for crime information since 1930. The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program does not collect statistics on “honor killings” by foreign nationals.

It would have been possible for Trump to direct the FBI to collect such statistics, according to Stephen G. Fischer Jr. of the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division. But Trump gave the job to the Department of Homeland Security, which publishes statistics on the numbers of individuals deported because of crimes, but no statistics on particular crimes.

“DHS is developing policies and procedures on collection and publication of data related to honor killings,” spokesman David Lapan wrote in an email. The agency might start with a definition.

Mark Chiusano

Columns