Reports of "Knockout Game" attacks — in which someone sneaks up to a random person and tries to knock them unconscious with one blow to the head — have proliferated across the U.S. in recent months, reported the Star-Ledger. Is it reality or myth?
The New Jersey Legislature thinks the knockout game is real and intends to do something out it. "'Knockout' is not a game. It is a violent and dangerous act," said New Jersey Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick, who co-sponsored the legislation with Assemblyman Ron Dancer. "As legislators, we must ensure that our laws address the newest inceptions of violence with the harshest possible penalties."
Still, some police officials have questioned recently whether the "Knockout Game" is actually real. They say the attacks may be nothing more than random assaults that have always occurred and that the "game" may simply be an urban myth.
"We're trying to determine whether or not this is a real phenomenon," New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly told The New York Times last month. "I mean, yes, something like this can happen. But we would like to have people come forward and give us any information they have."
In New Jersey, an aggravated assault is a third-degree crime punishable by a three- to five-year prison term and a fine of $15,000. But Bramnick and Dancer said third-degree aggravated assault crimes do not usually lead to imprisonment.
The proposed measure, however, would specify that anyone found guilty of a "Knockout Game" aggravated assault must serve a minimum prison term of one-third to one-half of the three- to five-year sentence and would not be eligible for parole.
"Randomly punching someone with the intent to render them unconscious is anything but a game," Dancer said. "It's becoming a public safety issue and that's why we need to address it immediately."
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