New York is bracing for a public safety nightmare as we approach the New Year. Liberal lawmakers pushed through a wildly out-of-touch criminal justice agenda that will soon take effect and has many scratching their heads. With new “reforms” ready to begin, red flags are popping up and grim examples are surfacing for what lies ahead.
Questions are coming from all sides, most notably from law enforcement officials and prosecutors. District attorneys from across New York have expressed serious concerns over the impacts that reforms will have on public safety. During a recent hearing on the subject of evidence discovery in criminal prosecutions, even the state attorney general’s office is unsure if they have the funding or manpower to meet the demands of the new requirements.
A recent incident offers a preview of what we can expect under a revised criminal justice system. A Canadian resident with outstanding arrest warrants recently led police on a 25-mile car chase in Warren County. The chase ended when the individual crashed his vehicle into another car, tragically killing the other driver.
The judge held the suspect without bail. But under the initial charges filed in the case, that will no longer be an option in 2020. Under new bail reforms, the suspect would have been set free and given a date for a future court date. Imagine being a family member of the deceased victim, and watching the individual responsible for their death walk free on the same day as the tragedy.
There are dozens of crimes that will fall into the same “no bail” category. Some of the most egregious crimes that no longer allow bail include:
Aggravated assault upon a person less than 11 years old;
Aggravated vehicular homicide;
Manslaughter in the second degree;
Criminal possession of a weapon on school grounds or criminal possession of a firearm;
Specified felony drug offenses involving the use of children, including the use of a child to commit a controlled substance offense and criminal sale of a controlled substance to a child; and
Promoting an obscene sexual performance by a child.
This terrible law fits the pro-criminal mentality we have seen in recent years, with Gov. Andrew Cuomo front and center, looking to score political points rather than create a justice system truly fair to all. The wave of misguided pandering started with proposing free tablets and taxpayer-funded college classes for inmates. Then, they added voting rights for paroled felons and hope to have the public fund a raise to inmates’ minimum wage. Now, a new proposal would make New York one of only three states to allow actual prisoners the chance to vote right from jail. Ludicrous.
New York is on a troubling path; each law that coddles convicts moves us further from the sound, common-sense governance millions of New Yorkers rely upon each day to keep them safe. It distracts from solving the real issues everyday, law-abiding New Yorkers face – sky-high taxes, an unaffordable cost of living, finding job opportunities, earning enough income to raise a family and a host of others.
The legislative process is supposed to work in tandem with the legal system, not chip away at it until it’s ineffective and unrecognizable. Something needs to be done now, before the calendar changes over and prosecutors in New York State are forced to cope with unworkable, expensive and dangerous rules.
What do you think? I want to hear from you. Send me your feedback, suggestions and ideas regarding this or any other issue facing New York state. You can always contact my district office at (315) 781-2030, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
— Brian M. Kolb (R,C-Canandaigua) is the New York state Assembly Minority Leader