Something rather remarkable happened in New York City on Friday, though it largely flew under the media radar. Ever since New York’s new bail reform and criminal justice reform laws went into effect at the beginning of the year, crime rates have been rising steadily in all but two categories of major crimes. (Murder and rape remain at their previous levels, at least for now.) Beyond that, it’s possible, though not definitively established, that the criminal justice reform law led to a victim/witness in an upcoming gang violence trial being murdered on Long Island.
But through it all, Big Apple Mayor Bill de Blasio has steadfastly claimed that the new laws were not to blame and that while some minor “adjustments” to the laws might be required, they were going to stay in place. Finally, on Friday, with the weight of evidence mounting, Hizzoner responded to a reporter’s questions by admitting that these laws were likely a major factor in the rising crime rates. (NY Post)
Mayor Bill de Blasio linked a recent crime surge in the Big Apple to the state’s controversial overhaul of bail laws Friday, after spending a week dancing around the matter.
“We had, for six years, steady decreases in crime across the board. There’s not a whole lot of other environmental things that have changed recently,” Hizzoner told WNYC’s Brian Lehrer on new CompStat data that shows crime has soared since the new laws took effect at the start of 2020. “It sort of stands out like a sore thumb that this is the single biggest new thing in the equation and we saw an extraordinary jump.”
“Of course there’s always a possibility this is plain statistical variation, that happens sometimes,” he added. “But I think it’s pretty clear that there’s only one new major piece in the equation.”
Gee, ya think? De Blasio made sure to get in his usual line about ensuring that guidelines for judges eliminated “even any inkling of bias.” That’s one talking point he can’t afford to abandon because the entire basis for the bail reform law originally was based on the idea that bail impacts communities of color disproportionately.
But during the interview, Big Bill went on to say that judicial discretion should allow room to recognize that “there are some individuals who are just consistently… creat[ing] a threat to their neighbors.” That’s a refreshing bit of common sense coming from de Blasio, particularly considering how he’s been in denial of this new reality for weeks now.
I still doubt that the state legislature in Albany will agree to scrap the bail reform law entirely, but this sort of public pressure should at least pave the way for a significant overhaul of the legislation. And to be clear, I’m not writing off the idea entirely. We’ve certainly learned of cases where people with either no previous criminal record or only very minor infractions wound up sitting in jail for days or even weeks on shoplifting charges simply because they couldn’t come up with five hundred dollars for bail. And such things were more likely to happen in the most economically disadvantaged communities of the city, which also happen to be populated largely by minorities.
So with that said, new guidelines to do away with or greatly reduce bail for first offenses of low-level property crime could certainly be in order. But by the same token, armed robbery is not a minor crime even if nobody winds up being injured during the caper. And we already saw one guy be released multiple times on no bail after robbing as many as six banks in a single week. Chasing down Orthodox Jews and punching them in the head in broad daylight is not a minor crime. Grand theft auto is not a minor crime.
If you’re pursuing a career as a criminal and you decide you want to play in the big leagues, you’re going to face the possibility of not only being arrested but potentially having to put up significant bail if you want to stay out on the streets until your trial. Or at least that’s how the system has traditionally worked and should still work in a sane world. In their efforts to look sufficiently woke and not offend any politically favored demographic groups, the New York State legislature, the Governor and the Mayor of Gotham have thrown the public safety baby out with the bathwater. And somebody needs to step in and stop this train before it goes any further off the rails.