The New Jersey State Commission of Investigation released a report at the end of September that the majority of street and gang crime in the state has shifted to teenagers. The report from the agency discovered that very young kids are committing gang-related crimes more so than 18-to-24-year-olds in the state. Some offenders have even been as young as 12, according to the report.
There was a public hearing held this week by the agency that explained gang-related crimes are being committed more often by young offenders and that the crimes are deadlier than before. The commission is made up of current and retired police officers and detention center employees. The panel testified at the hearing that teen crime has risen by 200 percent in some areas of New Jersey in the past couple of years. From 2015 to 2017 there was a 200 percent increase in juveniles being shot in Trenton.
Lee C. Seglem, the Executive Director of the Commission, said the following at the hearing:
“Youth violence has mushroomed to a crisis point. We are here to talk about children …children who are picking up guns to kill and maim each other and anyone who might get in the way.”
Gangs are Changing
According to officials, the composition of gangs throughout New Jersey has changed over the past couple of years. Members joining the gangs have been younger and younger than in the past. The gangs have been more neighborhood-centric than before too. Officers said that younger gang members will be more difficult to spot because they follow fewer rules than older gang members and gangs like the Crips and the Bloods.
Social media has added fuel to the fire when it comes to gang feuds and wars. Members tend to taunt each other using social media and it often leads to violent encounters, according to officials with the Commission. Officials also stated that the new normal is gang members posing with weapons and creating videos or photos to share on various social media sites.
Edwin Torres is an investigator with the Commission. Torres said that social media has been weaponized by the younger gang members.
“It’s almost like pulling some sort of cyber-trigger when they post something online,” Torres said. “It is their modern-day graffiti.”
The overall crime statistics paint a positive picture for the state of New Jersey as numbers have dropped, but not when it comes to teen crime. Statistics have shown that there has been a significant rise in the number of teenagers who have been arrested for possession of a weapon. From 2015 to 2017 there was a 26 percent jump in these arrests. 2015 saw 472 minors arrested for possession of a weapon, while there were 600 arrests for the same crime in 2017.
Camden and Trenton are dealing with this issue more than any other municipality in the state. Camden saw an increase in these arrests of 53 percent from 2015 to 2017, while Trenton saw a 200 percent increase during the same period.
Contact an Experienced Moorestown Criminal Defense Lawyer About Your Criminal Charges in New Jersey
Were you arrested or charged in New Jersey? The consequences of a conviction could be severe, leaving you with a permanent criminal record and possibly even sending you to jail. That is why you need to speak with a qualified criminal defense attorney as soon as possible about your case. At The Law Offices of Stephen R. Piper we have successfully represented clients facing criminal charges in Moorestown and throughout New Jersey. Call 856-333-3586 or fill out the online contact form to schedule a consultation with a member of our legal team.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.