New York City and the state must work together to treat mental health issues as the serious threat that they are. Both should immediately fund initiatives that enable expedited enrollment in treatment programs so that the all of law enforcement and district attorneys can readily access appropriate services in place of, or in tandem with, the criminal justice system, rather than turning these people in need back to the streets.
The data also show that almost two-thirds of the attacks in New York City are committed by juveniles who are local residents. This is deeply disturbing. After suspects are arrested, family court judges have too few options. City Hall must develop an age-appropriate restorative justice option for those adjudicated as juvenile offenders for their participation in what could be a hate crime. The program should include both supervised community service and an educational element that would focus on teaching an offender about the societal costs of hate crimes. In addition, comprehensive anti-bias education programming needs to be instituted in city schools, beyond Mayor Bill de Blasio’s current plan.
And when appropriate, hate-crime assailants should face significant jail time in order to send a clear message that hate crimes will not go unpunished.