What do you know? Some City Council members — mostly Democrats! — finally figured out that New York’s criminal-justice “reforms” may be a bad idea.
On Thursday, 20 lawmakers sent a letter to Gov. Kathy Hochul and the Legislature’s leaders demanding fixes to laws that have fueled the runaway rise in city violence.
They want to give judges discretion to remand defendants charged with gun crimes based on criminal history and other factors. And reforms to the process that “allows for the almost-immediate release” of gun-violence suspects by shifting their cases to family court. It’s a start.
The laws “have had the unintended effect of allowing people participating in gun violence to be released from custody within hours of their arrest — sending a dangerous message to would-be perpetrators,” the letter reads. They’re right: Raise the Age and the botched no-bail laws left more criminals, and illegal guns, out on the streets, helping drive up murders, now up 43 percent so far this year vs. 2019.
Many, including us, warned of a spike in violence in 2019, after lawmakers eliminated bail and tied judges’ hands for most crimes in New York. And we’ve been calling attention to the problem ever since. Yet our Oct. 2 cover story, picturing some of the 21 kids under the age of 18 who’ve been killed in street violence this year might have finally gotten these lawmakers to care.
Or maybe constituents are banging down their doors: The “numbers represent lost lives and a frightening nightmare for low-income, minority communities who have beared the brunt of this crisis,” the letter added.
To be clear, many of those signing the letter did not vote for last year’s “Defund the NYPD” drive. But they weren’t exactly vocal when these laws were being passed.
Whatever prompted the shift, it’s welcome. Some other ideas: Judges need discretion over a far broader set of crimes. The Less Is More Act that Hochul recently signed, freeing inmates held on “technicalities,” is already proving a disaster and needs to be fixed or scrapped. Ditto for pre-trial discovery laws that put witnesses at risk and discourage them from providing evidence.
Here in the city, likely next mayor Eric Adams will need to restore the anti-crime undercover unit that got illegal guns off the street until a clueless Mayor Bill de Blasio scrapped it. And relax local laws that handcuff cops.
Adams has already vowed to tackle crime, and now there’s fresh concern on the council. Cross your fingers that the tide’s about to shift.