Judge Judy has scathing message for cities engulfed in brazen crime, pinpoints 'ridiculous' policies

EXCLUSIVE – Actor Steve Buscemi was recently attacked in broad daylight in New York City, a brazen assault the likes of which wasn’t a surprise to Judge Judy Sheindlin because she knows exactly how America reached this point.

“Oh I know how we got here,” Sheindlin told Fox News Digital in an exclusive interview. “We got here because a small group of people who have very loud voices created a scenario where bad people got rewarded. And the victim got punished by the system.”

On May 8, Buscemi, the 66-year-old former “Boardwalk Empire” and “Sopranos” star, was left with a black eye and bleeding on Third Avenue in Manhattan, police said. The New York Police Department later identified the suspect as 50-year-old homeless man Clifton Williams. He was charged with second-degree assault.

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Crime in the New York transit system is up roughly 7% in 2024 compared to the same period in 2023, according to the New York Police Department. Democratic New York Gov. Kathy Hochul even deployed the National Guard to the subway system in March to assist the NYPD with bag searches at entrances. Felony assaults fell about 2% in April compared with the previous April, according to the Police Department, and an overall drop in crime found a 30% drop in murders and 15% fewer shootings. But misdemeanor assaults increased 7% in the first few months of 2024, compared with the same period last year, the New York Times reports.

The cast of “Judy Justice.” L-R (Sarah Rose, Judge Judy Sheindlin, Whitney Kumar, Kevin Rasco) Other just not with Judge Sheindlin. (Michael Becker/Amazon Freevee)

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A woman who was the victim of a robbery in Washington, D.C., in February was left crawling back to her home after the violent encounter in the nation’s capital. The Metropolitan Police Department reported increases in crime in 2023, with robberies up 67% and overall violent crime up 39%. Carjackings also skyrocketed in D.C., by 97.9% in 2023 compared to the previous year, police data has also shown.

Sheindlin acknowledged there are always reasons for why a criminal becomes a criminal, but argued that those backgrounds don’t justify their actions.

“You know there is always a reason for criminal behavior – didn’t have a good upbringing, didn’t have two parents in the house, didn’t have one parent in the house,” she said. “There’s always a reason. You’re mentally ill. That’s a reason. You took drugs, that’s a reason. You took alcohol, your brain is fried… Whatever it is.”

But, she said, “there is never an excuse for bad behavior.”

NYPD have identified Clifton Williams, 50, as the suspect who punched actor Steve Buscemi in a random attack in Manhattan last week.  (Fox 5 New York)

“And when society started to make excuses for bad behavior, and react to criminality based upon the excuses, it fell apart,” she added.

“You’re just as dead as somebody 18 kills you, or 17,” Sheindlin said. “You’re just as dead. And if you’re 17 years old and kill somebody, you don’t belong with kids who are 12, in a juvenile facility… But a very small group of people pushed through in New York State, for instance, raising the level of criminal responsibility.”

New York’s Raise the Age legislation in 2019 raised the minimum age to 18 that a defendant could be prosecuted as an adult in criminal cases. New York was previously one of two remaining states to hold 16-year-olds criminally responsible.

“Well, that’s ridiculous,” Sheindlin said. “If you have family, if you have a mother who’s 65 years old who’s walking to the grocery store and some crazy for no reason hits her over the head with a steel pipe and kills her, and they’re 17, that person should never be allowed to walk the street again, because society can’t take a chance.”

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Sheindlin also took aim at wayward district attorneys, without naming any in particular.

“When you have district attorneys who are charged, whose job it is to do justice, but to keep the community safe … When you have elected district attorneys who don’t know what their job is, they should go find another job,” she said. “Fill ice cream cones someplace. But don’t ruin cities. And what’s happened around New York City, Portland, San Francisco, you had district attorneys who didn’t know what their job was. And the cities are ruined, people are leaving.”

“I think we better get smarter before we get lost,” she concluded. “Permanently lost.”

Adam Levy, right, is Judge Judy Sheindlin’s son, and stars with Judge Tanya Acker and Judge Patricia DiMango in the new series “Tribunal Justice.” (Michael Becker/Amazon Freevee)

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Since leaving “Judge Judy” after 25 years, Sheindlin is now in her third season of “Judy Justice,” streaming on Amazon Freevee. She describes the show as being “more fun” because it includes what she used to have in family court – a clerk and a stenographer.

“Other than that, the people are the same,” she said. “The problems are the same – a little bit bigger perhaps because the amount of award is increased from $5,000 to $10,000. So, the quality of the cases is different. It’s sometimes more important cases. I’m still having a good time.”

Sheindlin also created and is one of the executive producers for “Tribunal Justice.” Season 2 episodes of the popular show are expected to start streaming on Amazon Freevee. Amazon has not yet announced a date.

“Judy Justice” – Judge Judy Sheindlin (Amazon Freevee)

Asked if she still had faith in society, Sheindlin said she “has to,” but reflected on an interview she did with Morley Safer on “60 Minutes” in 1993. In a discussion on family court dysfunction, Safer asked Sheindlin what it’s going to be like in 10 years.

“I said, ‘worse,’” she recalled. “A lot worse. And that’s what happened.”

“And here we are, 30 years later, and are we in a worse shape as a country, as a world, than we were in 1993? You bet your bottom we are.”

Fox News Digital’s Michael Ruiz and Laura Carrione contributed to this report.

Cortney O’Brien is an Editor at Fox News. Twitter: @obrienc2

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