WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A Luzerne County teen is charged as an adult in connection with a violent home invasion. It’s creating conversations about an apparent rise in juvenile violent crimes in our area.
Over the last year alone Eyewitness News has covered quite a few stories involving juvenile violent crimes.
Eyewitness News Reporter Madonna Mantione spoke with Luzerne County District Attorney Sam Sanguedolce to learn more following the most recent case that happened over the weekend.
Police are charging 16-year-old Nihajj Johnson of Wilkes-Barre as an adult for his role in an armed home invasion Saturday.
It happened on the 100 block of Poplar Street where police say Johnson and a second suspect ransacked the home and pistol-whipped a man before fleeing the scene.
Johnson was taken into custody after police chased him on foot.
He was arraigned on a slew of charges including robbery and assault and it’s the latest case of a violent juvenile crime in Luzerne county.
“They’re absolutely on the rise, and I think we’ve gone from a time where too many juveniles were incarcerated on minor offenses to a time where almost no juveniles are incarcerated anywhere in the state of Pennsylvania,” said Sanguedolce.
Sanguedolce explains how the juvenile court system and the adult criminal court system are two entirely different areas of the law.
“When we see them getting involved at a younger age, 12,13,14, that’s extremely concerning. And we have to try to decide and it’s ultimately the court’s job to decide whether or not these are actually children acting as adults or whether this is errors attributable to the follies of youth. And thankfully, the crimes code does allow the serious violent crimes to be treated as adults where that decision is almost removed based on the nature of the crime you’ve committed,” said Sanguedolce.
Sanguedolce encourages parents to be proactive.
“The number one thing that I try to impress on parents is that there is no such thing as a juvenile’s right to privacy. Get in their room, find out what they’re doing,” said Sanguedolce.
Johnson is locked up at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility. The second suspect is still on the run as of Monday.