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How Long Will They Wait?

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Senator Tom O'Mara

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How long will they wait?

That’s the big question in state government at the moment. Governor Andrew Cuomo and the extreme-liberal, downstate leaders of the Legislature continue to shrug at making any changes to New York’s newly enacted bail reform law -- despite ongoing and repeated warnings from regional and statewide district attorneys, sheriffs and other law enforcement agencies, judges, and many elected officials that the law is a threat to public safety and unworkable.

In fact, not a day goes by without another warning from another county sheriff that another dangerous criminal has been set free. Not a day goes by without another news report about another repeat offender.

It should be clear by now to any reasonable person that bail reform as it stands puts public safety at risk. Still, the Democrat majorities in both houses of the state Legislature keep shrugging off the warnings. That’s irresponsible, to say the least.

Governor Cuomo failed to say even one word about it as part of his 2020 State of the State message to the Legislature last week. The governor stayed silent. 

The Democrat majority leader of the Senate from downstate Westchester County said, “We want to see if (the law) is doing what we want it to. We will make tweaks if necessary.” Tweaks? The law is not doing what it should be doing, unless what you want the law to do is unlock the cellblocks and send potentially dangerous criminals back into our communities, day after day, with no safeguards.

The Democrat Speaker of the Assembly from the Bronx sees no need for change. Many advocates of the disastrous new bail reform law, in fact, are now aggressively speaking out against making any changes to it at all.

They take these positions while over the past few weeks since the law took effect, it has been like a statewide jailbreak and there have been far too many real life examples of serious crimes committed by individuals released under this new No Bail reform. 

Remember that the list of crimes for which judges are now required to release defendants from custody without bail include: manslaughter in the second degree; criminally negligent homicide; assault in the third degree; robbery in the second and third degrees; A1 felony drug sales with no weight limit; grand larceny of more than $1 million; aggravated vehicular homicide; promoting or possessing an obscene sexual performance by a child; aggravated cruelty to animals; imprisonment in the first degree; specified felony drug offenses involving the use of children; failure to register as a sex offender; promoting prison contraband in the first and second degree; and many, many more that are equally troubling.  

Bail reform, as it stands, needs more than tweaks. When the law was enacted, not a single Republican in the Senate or Assembly voted for it.

Last week, I joined Senate Republican colleagues to call for a vote on repealing the law, which would allow for comprehensive public hearings that could lead to a reform done right. It could lead to a strict and sensible system of criminal justice that recognizes public safety above all, which it should, instead of a system that willingly fails to recognize that some criminals belong behind bars.

Our amendment was defeated along party lines. 

Our communities deserve better than a radically redefined criminal justice system that comes at the expense of victims and their families and loved ones, communities and neighborhoods, and taxpayers.

How long will they wait?

 

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