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What Are They Thinking?

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Senator Tom O'Mara


It can be frustrating to have to keep banging the proverbial drum of opposition when the right thing to do seems crystal clear. There’s no choice in New York State government now. 

Another week of the legislative session goes by yet, despite story after story after real life story from our streets and neighborhoods, Governor Andrew Cuomo and the extreme-liberal, downstate leaders of the Legislature take no action to fix what is so obviously a broken (and dangerous) bail reform law.

There are plenty of reactions to their inaction. Take your pick. I’ll take former New York Police Department Commissioner Bill Bratton, who gets straight to the point, “What the hell were they thinking about in Albany when they crafted this mind-boggling set of limitations on the criminal justice system?”

What were they thinking, yes, but also, What are they thinking now? The law took effect on Jan. 1. There has been a daily drumbeat of opposition from law enforcement, district attorneys, judges, elected officials, and everyday citizens fearful of the consequences. Consequences, by the way, that continue to mount and already include the deaths of innocent victims by repeat offenders set free under this irresponsible new law.
It bears repeating: It should be clear to any reasonable person that “No Bail” reform as it stands puts public safety at risk. 

Unfortunately, there appears no place for reason in this Legislature under one-party, downstate Democrat control in a party where those pushing a Democrat Socialist, radically progressive agenda have dropped anchor and are firmly moored within the highest levels of New York decision making. 

Make no mistake their agenda favors criminals over crime victims. It is an agenda disdainful of a commonsense tenet of public safety: some criminals belong behind bars. It is an agenda so clearly out of step with the legislative district I represent but that nevertheless forces us to face its consequences.  

Governor Cuomo let another week go by without demanding change – another week that produced another string of victims. 

The Democrat majority leader of the Senate and the Democrat Speaker of the Assembly allowed their chambers to gavel out without taking action. Unbelievably, however, the Senate Democrat majority did find time to begin pushing their next criminal justice reform: automatic parole hearings for every inmate who turns 55 while in prison, even those serving a sentence of life without parole for horrific, violent crimes inflicted on society.  

The advocates of the new “No Bail” reform, for their part, stepped up an already aggressive campaign to push the position legislative leaders are clinging to: No changes needed.

“No Bail” has become the poster for the pitfalls of one-party control of government where checks and balances are thrown out the window or, to put it another way, criminals walk out the door.

Remember that when the Legislature enacted bail reform, not a single Republican in the Senate or Assembly voted for it. Last week, many of us began offering constituents an online petition to join our fight for repealing the law. 

We will keep delivering the message that this is bad public policy. It’s dangerous and it will get worse. Our communities and the law enforcement community as a whole deserve better.  

We will keep highlighting the danger and keep pushing for a commonsense, safer, more workable solution that achieves necessary reform but that protects public safety as priority number one.

To sign our petition, visit my Senate website: www.omara.nysenate.gov and click on the “Repeal Bail Reform” icon on the home page.


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