Albany County DA Soares airs gripes with bail reforms before Albany County Legislature

The Albany County D.A. appeared before the County Legislature Thursday to address Raise the Age legislation, which he says had a direct impact on recent violence.

Democrat David Soares told legislators to prepare to be shocked, as he revealed a proclamation: New York state, as a result of “Raise the Age,” is the first in the country to adopt an open carry policy of illegal guns for teens.

“What is remarkable in our analysis of the cases that have come since 2018, to the present, is that we now live in a state that says a young person at the age of 16 apprehended three times with a loaded firearm in 18 months, that is defined by New York State law as ‘not extraordinary,'” said Soares. “When Craig Apple has a detail in West Hill, and his people pull over a vehicle with two teenagers on their way to a drive by with two illegal firearms with a capacity of over 100 rounds, and those individuals get to go back home and have breakfast with their families, the system is broke.”

Soares says the number one cause of death for young African-American males between ages 15 and 20 is gun violence, saying no existing county agency or court was ever developed or designed to handle what he calls today’s “the super hyper violent youth.” He’s calling for the state legislature to reconvene and reconsider recent criminal justice reforms.

“We are at a pace per capita to create jaw dropping numbers unless we take executive action, and we must we take emergency action,” Soares said. “Although there is only one group of people that can change this, I have made calls for our New York state leadership to return and address these issues. I will need more voices as we as we make that call. And that is my burden. That is my burden to convince you to be those voices.”

When a legislator asked Soares why isn’t the Albany Police Department addressing the gun crime issue, he responded “it’s a Raise the Age issue.”

“The Albany Police have been doing an exceptional job in identifying the individuals, because some of the individuals who are committing these crimes happen to have ankle bracelets on them,” Soares said. “Ankle bracelets from the first time that they went to family court and the judges required probation to put ankle bracelets on. The Albany Police Department are in fact making these arrests. The problem is the law.”

Republican County Legislator Mark Grimm of the 29th district says Soares’ testimony has moved him.

“It was really depressing to hear that there are really violent 16- and 17-year-old youth who are committing repeat crimes, violent crimes, and they’re not really being prosecuted but being sent to family court,” said Grimm. “And it’s all because of very poor state laws that are costing the lives of people in the Capital Region and across the state. So what he asks us to do, and what I will do is write to my legislators and ask them to change the laws that make this so difficult.”

Democratic Legislature Chair Andrew Joyce says he was “surprised” by the D.A.’s appearance.

“I didn’t know he was coming in to do a presentation on Raise the Age and neither did our committee chairs and many of our members,” Joyce said.

Joyce says although caught off-guard by the DA’s remarks, he thinks there’s opportunity for the legislature to continue working with Soares on a positive collaborative relationship as it does with the sheriff, the county executive and all legal entities within Albany County.

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