Posted on January 3, 2020

No Bail? No Problem in New York

Robert Hampton, American Renaissance, January 3, 2020

Thanks to New York’s new “criminal justice reform,” the police released a black woman after she was arrested for assaulting three Orthodox Jews. One day later, Tiffany Harris was arrested again for assault — and again, the police let her off without bail.

New York has eliminated cash bail for many offenses, including lower-level assault. The state’s Bail Elimination Act aims to “reduce unnecessary pretrial incarceration and improve equity and fairness in the criminal justice system.” Most people charged with a misdemeanor or a “non-violent” felony no longer have to post bail, but courts are also releasing people charged with violent felonies. Under the new law, crimes that do not cause actual physical injury are not violent, and judges may exercise no discretion on requiring bail.

Since Miss Harris did not injure her Orthodox victims, her crime was “non-violent.” All she did was punch and slap three young women while she shouted “F**k you, Jews.”

Miss Harris has a long rap sheet. Police arrested her for harassment and assault in 2018. A court sentenced her to no jail time for criminal mischief last November. She repeatedly failed to show up for court hearings in that case. The 2018 case is still open, but that didn’t prevent her release.

Another black woman arrested for assaulting an Orthodox Jew was also released last week without bail. She went after the victim with a handbag and said “the end is coming for you,” but there was no physical injury, so the crime was “non-violent.”

The law prohibits cash bail for several serious crimes such as robbery, weapons possession, and some forms of manslaughter. According to Law Enforcement Today, those arrested for second-degree manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, and aggravated vehicular homicide can be released without bail.

The bail “reform” was not supposed to go into effect until 2020, but New York City authorities insisted on an earlier start. “The de Blasio administration has made it clear that we all need to get into compliance with bail reform now,” a law enforcement official told the New York Post in December.

On New Year’s Eve, Nassau County and Suffolk County turned loose three dozen inmates who qualified for release under the new law. That same day, Albany County released a career criminal arrested for bank robbery without bail. He has two previous federal convictions for bank robbery.

In October, a black Bronx judge released a convicted murderer and alleged Crips gang member without bail. Shakeil Chandler had been arrested near the scene of a shooting and was charged with three counts of weapons possession. Prosecutors wanted bail set at $75,000, but Judge Jeanine Jameson didn’t think his criminal record should prevent release without bail.

Many criminals like Mr. Chandler will be released. The John Jay College of Criminal justice reports at least 20,000 people arrested in 2018 would have been released without bail if the law had been in effect. As of the new year, the state has released some 3,800 inmates from county prisons.

New York City police commissioner Demot F. Shea is appalled. “When you have individuals that are standing before a judge and immediately being released, and essentially everyone in the room knows that this person is a danger to the community,” he told a radio station, “I think we need to look at the system and make sure that judges can make common-sense decisions.”

What’s the justification for this law? Activists say it’s to end “racial disparities.” “[M]oney bail disproportionately affects racial minorities and the poor,” two activists argued in a 2018 column.

New York has also passed a new law that lets suspects inspect crime scenes. Victims who refuse an inspection could face contempt charges. Imagine a rape victim or victim of a home invasion having to put up with this. Warren County Sheriff’s Lt. Steven Stockdale described the law as revictimization: “[T]he defendant and his representatives can return to [the crime scene], take photographs, take measurements, and stuff along those lines.”

These new policies do not protect the public; Democrats think “social justice” is more important than real justice.