But our outrage, frustration and anger at this tragedy is compounded by the fact it could and should have been avoided. The man accused of shooting Officer Carter in the head is Shatiek Johnson, a 17-year-old repeat violent offender who was released from prison this April after serving two-thirds of a three-year sentence for killing a man. Johnson, at the time, was being sought as a suspect for another murder on July 16th.
The scenario is all too familiar to the death of Police Officer Anthony Mosomillo, who was shot and killed by a parolee this May, and to the murder of Detective Sean Carrington, who was killed in January. It also echoes the brutal murders, earlier this year, of 13-year-old Charise Gardner and 16-year-old Vaughn Brown by convicted criminals out on parole or probation
. How many more police officers and innocent civilians will we allow to be killed or critically injured by criminals who have been released prematurely from prison before we repair the system that lets them loose? We have made unprecedented progress in reducing crime – cutting murder by 70 percent and overall crime by nearly 50 percent. But we have to realize that these gains can't be sustained – much less continued – unless we fix the state criminal justice system that recycles criminals rather than giving them the punishment they deserve.
New Yorkers are tired of watching the tragedies. Twenty-eight states and the federal government have done away with parole and replaced it with truth in sentencing. Under truth in sentencing, a criminal sentenced by a judge to three years spends three years in prison – rather than getting released after two years, or paroled even sooner. This week, the New York State Legislature made some progress by adopting Jenna's Law, which will end parole for first-time violent offenders and increase the minimum amount of prison time for some convicted criminals. I congratulate the Governor and Legislature on this accomplishment – but we should all understand that it's only a step in the right direction which fails to end parole for drug dealers and many others. Much more must be done to finish the job.
We must also correct the deep flaws in our juvenile justice system, so that 15, 16, and 17-year old juveniles who kill people and commit other violent crimes are penalized as adults, and their records made public. Society has a right to know what it is dealing with, and young people who commit violent crimes should have to face the fact that they have broken the law and victimized human beings. Pretending that a crime never happened, as we do now, reflects a destructive philosophy and perpetuates the criminal mindset in the juvenile offender. Making these changes is the only way to safeguard the brave men and women who risk their lives for the people of the City, like Officer Carter, and the only way to build a safer New York for us all.