Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta thinks that New Hampshire’s proposed House Bill 584, which would overturn a 1996 law lowering the age of criminal responsibility to 17, is a terrible idea, as he explains in this op-ed in the Union Leader.
Apparently, restoring the age to 18 would create a “bureaucratic nightmare for law-enforcement officials,” would encourage the “criminal element” from “liberal Massachusetts” to stop by and plunder his city’s streets, would “compromise the prevention and rehabilitation efforts already happening for those ages 16 and under” and would put “residents at risk–not just in Manchester, but throughout the state.”
“To truly show you the lunacy of this proposed law,” he writes, “a 17-year-old who is convicted of committing a felony or misdemeanor crime would not have an adult criminal record.” Yikes!
I don’t know for sure, but judging by the ferocity of Guinta’s opposition, I’d guess that Manchester must have resembled Sodom and Gomorrah before state legislators put that law in place in 1996. Like Five Points in old New York. A Hobbesian war of all against all. But, wait… didn’t New Hampshire regularly rise to the top of the list of the safest and wealthiest states in the nation long before the 1996 law was passed?
And actually, now that I look at the numbers, I see that the crime rate in New Hampshire dropped from 1991 to 1998 by 30 percent, even though the incarceration rate during the same time period went up by 38 percent. What’s that about? Probably has something to do with those pesky liberals from Massachusetts.