March 10, 2020

The Big Apple’s Big Crime Wave

It turns out that releasing criminals without requiring bail is a bad idea. Who knew?

The results are in on New York’s new “bail reform” law that prohibits requiring cash bail for people arrested for misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies. Shock of shocks, it’s a complete disaster.

Just two months after the new law implementing so-called bail reform went into effect, crime in New York City has skyrocketed. Major crimes are up 22% compared to a year ago. And the New York Police Department reports, “In the first 58 days of 2020, 482 individuals who had already been arrested for committing a serious (felony) crime such as robbery or burglary were rearrested for committing an additional 846 crimes. Thirty-five percent, or 299, were for arrests in the seven major crime categories — murder, rape, robbery, felony assault, burglary, grand larceny and grand larceny auto — that is nearly triple the amount of those crimes committed in the same 58 days in 2019.” This doesn’t distinguish between crime committed by citizens and illegal aliens, but the latter are responsible for a vastly disproportionate number of crimes.

Bail reform was rammed through the New York State Legislature after Democrats seized control of both houses in the last election. The goal was to remove cash bail to help reduce the city’s prison population. It was also believed that cash bail was unfair because a large number of suspects couldn’t afford it and would be stuck in jail awaiting trial. In some extreme cases this has led to suspects spending extraordinary amounts of time behind bars before having their day in court.

This is another great example of leftist cost transference. Prisons are less crowded, but everything else is much, much more expensive.

The right to a speedy trial is enshrined in the Constitution, but there are surely better ways to address prison overcrowding than to remove a judge’s power to determine a suspect’s danger to the public and guarantee whether a suspect shows up for trial. According to the law, judges can set a cash bail in situations where it is proven that the suspect is a flight risk. There are also ankle monitors and police check-ins to ensure the suspect hasn’t flown the coop.

The problem with the bail-reform law is that the criminals being released are often serial offenders who many times proudly exhibit their lack of respect for the law.

Take turnstile jumper Charles Barry, who, after being arrested 139 times for various subway infractions, was let back out on the street. He told a reporter from the New York Daily News, “I’m famous! I take $200, $300 a day of your money, cracker! You can’t stop me!”

Then there is Gerod Woodberry, who committed four bank robberies between December 30 and January 8. But because he did not use a gun to pull off the stickups, he is out on the street. He could commit a fifth robbery tomorrow, and the NYPD would have to let him go. “I can’t believe they let me out,” Woodberry told the New York Post. “What were they thinking?”

The short answer is, not much. As might be expected, leftist groups like the Legal Aid Society have doubled down on support for bail reform, claiming that publicizing stories like Barry’s or Woodberry’s is a “scare tactic.” It has even started a TV ad campaign running throughout New York State urging citizens to reject any changes to the law.

Citizen support for bail reform, which was never great to begin with, has plummeted. Even Democrat New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio admitted publicly that the recent sharp rise in crime was due to the bail-reform law. Whether he will put his diminishing political power behind changing the policy is yet to be determined.

In sharing the recent crime statistics with reporters, NYPD Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said, “Each number represents a victim.” He’s right, and the victims are who law enforcement and the court system should be most concerned with, not serial offenders with no respect for the law.

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