Justice isn’t just supposed to be for the criminals. It’s supposed to be for the victims, too.
In the case of last summer’s vicious attack at the Bow Tie Cinema by a gang of teenagers on an innocent father trying to enjoy a night out with his daughters and their friend, justice for the victims is nowhere in sight.
During the June 28 incident, a Niskayuna man suffered a severe concussion, a broken hand, a damaged tooth and other scrapes after being repeatedly kicked and punched by a group of out-of-control teenagers. One of the man’s daughters also was punched in the face and had her cell phone stolen.
The man’s only crime was asking the teenagers to shut up while he and his group were trying to watch the movie.
Yet the punishment handed down last Friday for three of the teen perpetrators was far less than the punishment the law allows for their particular crimes.
This wasn’t some youthful indiscretion like a vandalism or shoplifting case worthy of a second chance. This was a first-degree felony assault in which these kids could easily have killed their victims. They should have been held more responsible for what they did.
The alleged instigator got less than a year in jail instead of the 16 months to 4 years he could have faced. The two others got probation and time served instead of the year in jail they could have gotten.
In addition, the judge agreed to grant them all youthful offender status, which allows them to pretend this never happened.
The father and the children weren’t the only victims of this crime, however. The movie theater, and downtown Schenectady itself, also got a black eye through the bad publicity related to the attack. Some people have said they’re now afraid to go downtown or attend movies there because of the incident, even though that area of the city and the movie theater have very good safety records.
Three of the six attackers were 16 years old, another was 17. All were old enough to know what they were doing and to know the difference between right and wrong. Leniency was not warranted.
The sentences send a strong message to the next group of wild teenagers that if they get their GEDs and promise to behave, they’ll also get the same “second chance” that they didn’t give their victims. And it sends a message to downtown visitors that their security is not being taken seriously by the court system.
Instead of considering the positive attributes of the criminals, the judge should have given more consideration to their targets. Then maybe we’d have some sense that justice had been served.