Hochul is making a good move toward fixing bail laws, but not enough to curb crime.
Good for Gov. Kathy Hochul for taking at least one significant step towards fixing the state’s disastrous bail reform, but there’s still a ton of things that need to be fixed to reverse out-of-control crime in New York.
Presenting her budget on Wednesday, Hochul called for clearing up “confusion” by lifting the requirement for judges to take the “least restrictive” measures to ensure a defendant returns to court. This, she rightly argues, runs counter to other language in the same law, which gives judges discretion to consider other factors, such as the defendant’s background, when determining bail.
Some judges do given these factors, she notes, others consider themselves bound by the “least restrictive” standard and quickly release defendants without bail. “We have a discrepancy in the law.”
Hochul is absolutely right that the courts should take into account the accused’s file, since the law now permitted, especially if they pose a threat to public safety or demonstrate a clear risk of reoffending. And the judges must know for sure that they have such discretion.
Alas, progressives resist any change (unless it means there will be fewer bad guys in prisons). Hohul’s proposal “will soak the hands of politicians in blood,” howls Lucas Sanchez of New York Communities for Change. “Judges don’t need more leeway, they need more accountability,” complains Zoe Adele of the Envision Freedom Fund.
So the governor will most likely have to go to the carpet to achieve this.
Meanwhile, she does nothing to curb crimes committed by those under the age of 18, often against other teenagers. Such offenses are quickly took off after the age-raising law (which keeps 16- and 17-year-olds from serious consequences) came into full force in 2019.
Indeed, the number of under-18 shooters in the city has more than doubled since then, as have teenagers affected by shootings. But Hochul did not say boo about this erroneous law in Wednesday’s budget presentation.
And while she wants more funding to help prosecutors deal with the near-impossible rules for gathering and sharing evidence, she’s actually refusing. to correct these rules forced district attorneys to drop cases and led to record staff burnout.
Yes, soft judges and loose district attorneys are part of the problem. However, this is another reason to get the right laws in place and refocus the justice system on public safety. The government is moving in the right direction, but it looks like New Yorkers will have an unnecessarily high crime rate for far too long before the Legislature agrees to fix it. Everybody defects.
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