According to youth advocates, teenagers, and street workers, girl groups in Massachusetts are continuing to inflict violence on each other-despite the latest police figures.
The violence is reportedly triggered by gossip and jealousy. Knives, fists, and razors have fast become the common weapons of choice in these kinds of juvenile crimes. Girls getting ready for a fight will reportedly smear petroleum jelly on their faces so that their opponent’s fingernails won’t leave facial scars. One popular kind of assault crime, called “a buck fifty,” leave the slashing victim with such a deep cut on her face that it should take 15 stitches to close the wound.
Boston police, however, say that violent crimes between girls have gone down since 2005. From January 1 to August 15, 2006, 112 girls, ages 14-19, were apprehended for participating in aggravated assault crimes on other females. This year, during the same time period, only 96 girls were apprehended. As of August 1, 2007, there are 302 less women in custody with the Department of Youth Services than there were by August 1 of last year.
Others, however, have expressed concern that the lower figures do not indicate a decrease in gang violence, but are a reflection of the growing reluctance of girls to report that they have been the victim of assault by a girl gang because of fear and embarrassment.
Although studies show that girls tend to join groups for safety reasons, many of them end up getting hurt because of the rivalries that can arise between groups.
In Massachusetts, minors that are arrested for committing crimes do stand a chance of being served a less severe penalty than an adult convicted of the same kind of crime. If a juvenile is convicted for committing a serious crime, such as rape, assault with a deadly weapon, or other kinds of felony crimes, the young person could be handed over to the Department of Youth and placed in its custody until age 18.
In Massachusetts, a juvenile is a young person between 7 and 17 years of age. Juveniles charged with committing a crime in Massachusetts are usually prosecuted in juvenile court.
Youthful Offender Law
Massachusetts’s Youthful Offender allows the state to prosecute teenagers, ages 14-17, that are charged with a felony crime as “Youthful Offenders” if they fit the following criteria:
• He or she is already committed to the Department of Youth Services (DYS).
• He or she is charged with a crime that involves the “infliction or threat of serious bodily harm.
• He or she is charged with a firearm offense.
Conviction as a Youthful Offender can lead to House of Correction or adult prison sentences and other serious penalties.
Vicious attacks by girl cliques seen increasing, Boston.com, September 4, 2007
MA Courts, Probation and the Department of Youth Services (DYS), Youth Advocacy Project.org
Related Web Resources:
Department of Youth Services, Mass.gov
Girl Gangs: Are Girls Getting More Violent?, UIC.edu
Teenage Girls Buying into Gang Violence, Casanet.org
In Massachusetts, the criminal law firm of Altman & Altman LLP has successfully represented many youths charged with misdemeanor and felony crimes in the state. We understand the way the juvenile court system worked and we have handled every kind of juvenile crime imaginable.
To schedule your free case evaluation for your teenager, contact Altman & Altman LLP today.