Weak-on-crime policies are rapidly showing their worst effects, as New York’s law abolishing bail enters its first full week. The results are so bad that even Democrats are now clamoring to save face and make changes to the law. Trump and Republicans would be wise to watch and learn from New York that they should not only jump off the criminal justice so-called “reform” bandwagon, but actually push policies getting tougher on criminals while relentlessly campaigning against those who side with violent criminals, gangsters, and drug traffickers.
Last week, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the NYPD is on high alert in light of tensions with Iran following the killing of Qassem Soleimani. However, the streets of the city are likely in greater danger from domestic criminals as a result of the jailbreak policies his party supported, and on that account, the police are actually on low alert out of fear of losing their jobs.
The NYPD announced that homicides jumped eight percent in 2019, and that is before the enactment of most of the pro-criminal laws. This comes on the heels of other data showing violent crime on the rise in parts of the city and on subways. That is very significant, given that murder rates fell every year since the Giuliani era in the early 1990s until the past few years. The great miracle of New York’s reduction in crime is being eaten away before our eyes, yet the politicians are focusing on making it tougher for police and prosecutors.
What can New York expect this year? Well, given that most crimes are committed by repeat offenders, and the repeat offenders will now roam the streets, it doesn’t take a Ph.D. to foresee the results. While many of those released without bail under the new law have just committed terrible crimes, what is often overlooked is that many are repeat offenders who have committed much worse crimes in the past.
For example, last Thursday, Tyquan Rivera of Rochester was released from jail after he was arrested on drug charges. The political system now treats drug trafficking as a minor crime, but the reality is that many people picked up for drugs had prior convictions for violent crimes. Locking them up on “lower”-level crimes is how we’ve kept the violent crime rate down for over two decades. Rivera is no different. In 2009, he was convicted of shooting Rochester police officer Anthony DiPonzio in the back of the head. Thanks to weak sentencing, he was out on the streets in 2016 to commit more crimes. Now that he has been picked up on drug charges, the new anti-bail law doesn’t take into account his serious criminal record. He will remain free indefinitely.
“Courts have been stripped of much of their discretion in determining whether a defendant should be held pending disposition of his/her case,” said Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley in a statement to CR. “Rather, the court now looks to a structure of Qualifying vs. Non-Qualifying offenses where dangerousness or threat to public safety cannot be considered. If a defendant is accused of a ‘non-qualifying’ offense, the court must release the defendant on his/her own recognizance or set non-monetary conditions of release.” Thus, in the case of Rivera, even though he was previously convicted for attempted murder of a cop and was arrested this time for allegedly selling fentanyl to undercover officers on two separate occasions, he walked out of the courtroom back to the streets.
How many more people as violent as Rivera will be let back onto the streets? It could be thousands. Think about all those people who rang in the new year with drunk driving and killed pedestrians or motorists. They are all out of jail. Farkell Hopkins was arrested for killing a pedestrian on New Year’s Eve while driving at twice the legal drinking limit. He was immediately released.
The jailbreak law applies retroactively to some of the worst criminals already in jail awaiting trial, too. In July, Paul Barbaritano was arrested in Albany for allegedly strangling a 29-year-old woman with a karate belt and then slitting her throat. However, because he is only charged with second-degree murder, he was released on January 2, despite his rap sheet, which includes a conviction for robbery.
Likewise, in North Westchester, a 27-year-old man who was caught last week breaking into a girl’s bedroom and was later found to have committed theft earlier that night was released. Under the current law, those crimes are considered low-level felonies.
Democrats are already facing such backlash from the bail “reform” bill that they are talking about modifying it. But rather than granting them cover to very partially fix one aspect of a more systemic problem, American citizens need to keep up the pressure and focus on the broader picture. Liberals in both parties are promoting radical leniencies across every part of the criminal justice system, not just in the context of pretrial jail time, but even in post-conviction prison time.