A fix for New York's disastrous bail reform law?

In the roughly two months since New York’s new bail reform law went into effect, support for the measure (which was tepid at best to start with) has almost entirely collapsed for obvious reasons. The revolving door for criminals created by this law has produced an endless stream of embarrassing headlines in Gotham’s newspapers, as bad guys laugh at the criminal justice system and go on robbery and assault sprees. Despite the Governor’s promise to “look at” some possible reforms to the measure, nothing has been done and the situation, particularly in New York City, continues to deteriorate.

Perhaps both Governor Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio should take to heart a new analysis from the Manhattan Institute which suggests that the time to fix this broken system is now. They offer some specific remedies which could at least limit the damage and quell some of the public anger currently being directed at the state and municipal governments. (Free Beacon)

On Jan. 1, New York became the latest state to largely do away with cash bail, prohibiting its use for all misdemeanors and many felony offenses. The results have not been encouraging. Crime rates have spiked in New York City and polling support for bail reform has more or less collapsed.

In the new report, Rafael Mangual, deputy director of legal policy at the conservative Manhattan Institute, argues that the state needs to do three things to get bail reform back on track: Allow judges to make algorithmically informed considerations of public safety in bail decisions, allow the revocation of release if someone is rearrested, and give more funding to state courts to process cases faster.

As far as I’m concerned, the best option would be to repeal the law in its entirety and start over again if the state’s elected officials think the public will stand for another attempt. But since they appear to be digging in their heels, some “reform of the reform” may be all we can hope for. With that in mind, all three elements of this proposal from the Manhattan Institute are worth considering.

The first one is the toughest to wrestle to the ground. Allowing more freedom for judicial discretion is certainly worth looking at, but it likely won’t satisfy anyone on either side of the debate. For those concerned over crime and high recidivism rates, some activist judges that keep letting convicts off with a slap on the wrist were part of the original problem. That’s how we wound up with mandatory minimum sentencing laws. But proponents of reform point out that some judges frequently hand down harsher sentences to convicts of color, saying the system is rife with racism and abuse. It’s something of a circular firing squad in political terms.

The second item should be a no-brainer. The biggest black eye that the bail reform law has taken deals with the repeat offenders who have turned the court system into a very unfunny joke. The one guy who robbed six banks in just over a week despite having been arrested twice became the poster child for scrapping this law, but there were many more examples. If you must allow the suspects to leave jail with no bail, it should be done once. If they go on to get arrested again before their court date, that should be the end of it. They will have proven that they are a clear and present threat to society and should be held until their trial.

The final reform proposal is an obvious one. The cops and the courts are working overtime (literally) to try to process all of these criminals in a timely fashion so more funding is always going to be needed. But both the state and the city already have budget problems aplenty, particularly with increasing numbers of people fleeing the region, leading to a shrinking tax base. However, if the money can be found, then, by all means, do this as well.

As I mentioned at the top, public support for the bail reform law and the other “criminal justice reform” measures recently enacted has cratered. But both the municipal and state governments are thumbing their noses at the voters. It’s much the same as the “green light law” that gave driver’s licenses and identification cards to illegal aliens. A majority of voters opposed that measure as well, but it was voted into law anyway. So rather than just reforming bad laws, I have a different suggestion for the people of New York. How about you reform your voting habits and stop sending these worthless Democrats back to office year after year? A radical concept, I know. But you might have to start considering it.