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New York prosecutor: Abolishing bail will lead to dangerous crime waves and witness intimidation

We all saw the viral video las week of a man fighting with someone on a New York subway and then shoving a woman headfirst into a parked train. Well, he has been caught by police, and not surprisingly, he has a history – a massive criminal history dealing with subways. And, of course, he was out to roam the streets and terrorize subway passengers. Is there any wonder why NYC subway violence seems headed back to pre-Giuliani days?

According to prosecutors at a Saturday arraignment, Isaiah Thompson, 23, is the man seen on the viral video. He has been arrested nine times for a total of 18 subway offenses, including one incident where he pulled the emergency brake on a train, stranding 700 passengers. He has been arrested for “surfing” trains and assaulting passengers.

How are so many violent criminals who are a danger to the public out on the streets despite being known so well to law enforcement?

On May 21 – just five months ago – when Thompson was arrested for the incident stranding 700 passengers, he was charged with first-degree criminal tampering, reckless endangerment, and public lewdness. He had already accrued 17 transit-related offenses at that point, yet the judge let him out on $10,000 bond!

Thus the vicious cycle of jailbreak in New York continues, and it’s nearly impossible to sentence criminals to meaningful prison time. And then when they are caught harming the public again, they are released on bond pending the delayed disposition of their case. At least four more people wound up being harmed by this guy after he was released on bond in May. And while he was finally held on $100,000 bond following last week’s arrest, I’ll bet you anything he won’t serve serious time.

The movement to abolish bail is one of the most dangerous growing trends in many states, and few people among the general public are even aware of it. New York has gotten this bad even before the enactment of a new law that will officially abolish cash bail for these sort of assaults. Worse, as Sandra Doorley, district attorney of Monroe County, N.Y., explained on my podcast last week, there is a separate provision of the state “criminal justice reform” bill, which was snuck into the budget bill, that will allow defendants access to all information of witnesses within 15 days of the arraignment, thereby aggravating the anti-bail provision. The same criminal defendants who will now be out on the streets immediately after violently attacking people will now have more access to potential witnesses than ever before — while out of jail.

Doorley explained in my podcast interview that there are several changes to the discovery rules in the law. “We usually give it 30-45 days where we turn over everything to the defense because I don’t want anyone to say we do trial by ambush,” she said. “I want to make sure that the defense has everything that they need. Now, we are required by law that everything must be turned over within 15 days of arraignment. And now, not only does it extend to what we have in our file, we have to make sure that all of our law enforcement partners or our community partners, such as our child advocacy centers, our domestic violence consortiums, that everything that they have regarding the case needs to be turned over. You know, our toxicology lab, our medical examiner's lab, or our crime lab – everything must be turned over within 15 days of arraignment. “

Doorley also notes that along with all these mandates on prosecutors came zero dollars to help fund the paperwork, even as the state dumps more funding into programs for criminals.

However, here is the real kicker: Everything about grand jury testimony is also included in the disclosure rule. The 28-year prosecutor warns of the consequences:

“So say we have a horrible felony, and we've got witnesses who are afraid for their lives because it happened in their community and they fear for retaliation. Sometimes we’ll say, you know what, we're not going to go down on paper, we're going to walk you into grand jury. It's a secret proceeding. We won't have to turn over this testimony until right before the trial, and we can maybe perhaps seek a protective order. Now we are required within 15 days of arraignment to turn over all events. Grand jury testimony is no longer going to be a secret proceeding. Our defendants are going to know who is saying what about them.”

This is where the bail provision comes into play to dissuade witnesses, undermine prosecutors, and ensure that the worst criminal human beings go under-convicted or even free. “The majority of them are going to be out of custody because even those who commit violent crimes, it's not going to be cash bond,” warns Doorley, who has drawn a Soros-backed challenger in her re-election as DA. “Our governor said that 90 percent of the people arrested for crimes will be subject to mandatory release; they will not be held before trial.”

Now put the two provisions together – 15-day disclosure of all witness information and statements, plus almost everyone being let out before the trial.

“So with these people out of custody, we are giving over all of this material … our grand jury testimony … we are required to give defense attorneys a way to contact our victims. So, me as a prosecutor, and you look how I’ve been doing this for 28 years, I've had to sit with victims, I've had to say, you know what, we can protect you, we can relocate you and your family.”

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