Earlier this week, the New York daily news highlighted some of the “reform” efforts the legislature is trying to pass to reduce the jail population in New York, and specifically Rikers Island. The changes that are being pushed is startling. The new law would release an estimated 40 % of inmates from Rikers Island… That doesn’t sound like the worst thing in the world, if low level, non- violent offenders were safely released right? Well, when you consider the types of crimes that are eligible for release, most law-abiding citizens would not be okay with this.
Under the new law, judges would not have the option to set bail, or set a no bond hold for crimes like residential burglaries, robberies, most narcotic felonies, and second-degree manslaughter. New York daily news sampled 363 Queens defendants that would qualify for release, and the average record of offenses. Almost 80% of defendants are charged with felonies, in addition to felony convictions, and an average of 5 misdemeanor arrests, 2 felony convictions, and 6 prior misdemeanor convictions on average!
Under the current law, judges can make a release decision considering public safety, 47 other states also give that right to a judge. Sounds like common sense, right? Under this current bill, the legislature did not write any language that would allow judges to consider public safety… Huh?? This doesn’t improve our criminal justice system and protect victims. This is regression. Leniency in our criminal justice system is being pushed in favor of law-abiding citizens safety. Hopefully the legislature will recognize their regressive efforts and fix this nonsense.