Caseythoughts So, let's set the scene, so to speak. You have progressives hollering for bail 'reform' here locally (in conjunction with adamantly refusing to contemplate building a new jail) and across New York state. Their reasoning, most likely flawed. To quote Irene Flores of Legal Assistance of Western New York: "...I think it makes the system more fair, especially for people who are of a certain racial group...there are a lot of African-Americans and Hispanics who are jailed because they could not afford bail."

Wrong, Ms. Flores (and those who agree with her raison d'etre), they were jailed because law enforcement and a judge decided they may have committed a crime and are not only liable to harm the community (again) but may also not show up to court without a monetary impetus. It has naught to do with their 'poverty', but their alleged criminal activity and potential for further criminal mischief. I am reminded of Lenny Bruce's mockery of their reasoning, stating, in reference to a Ku Klux Klan member: "...remember there's no good or bad, they are merely a part of their environment."

But, let's see what the new law was supposed to do as of January 1st.

The reform that was passed and signed last year eliminated cash bail for misdemeanors and certain non-violent felonies. The idea, originally, expressed by our illustrious governor and certain very loud advocates here in Tompkins County (no need to name them, you can find their names splashed across every story proclaiming unfairness in the judicial system, rallying against building public safety buildings and demonstrating outside the courthouse) was that those who 'were no threat to the community' were locked up only because they couldn't afford bail. Cuomo pitched the signing of this bill as a "victory for fairness". Fairness for whom, I might ask.

Bear with me, I'm going to give you a very short rundown and example of crimes/misdemeanors that no longer require or allow bail to be set in New York state, with almost no leeway given to the prosecutors or judge:

  • 2nd degree burglary of a residence
  • 3rd degree burglary of a commercial building
  • 2nd degree robbery as a Hate Crime
  • using a child to commit a controlled substance crime
  • criminal possession of a controlled substance
  • criminal sale of a controlled substance in or near a school
  • criminal sale of a controlled substance to a child
  • criminal possession or creation of methamphetamine
  • 3rd degree assault as a Hate Crime
  • reckless assault of a child by a day care provider
  • vehicular assault
  • aggravated assault of a child under 11
  • 2nd degree vehicular manslaughter
  • 2nd degree manslaughter
  • tampering with a consumer product
  • 3rd degree arson
  • 3rd degree arson as a Hate Crime
  • criminal possession of stolen property
  • perjury
  • obstructing government with a bomb
  • bribing a juror
  • endangering the welfare of a child
  • criminal possession of a firearm on school grounds

Now, I repeat, what you just read is a small sample of the hundreds of crimes that not only don't require bail, but require release because the alleged perpetrator probably poses 'no risk to the community'. Notice many of the above mentioned illegal actions seem to revolve around drugs and the behaviors they portend.

The Nassau County DA said that politics had prevailed 'over common sense'. The NYPD Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said: "...essentially every one in the [court] room knows this person is a danger to the community, [and] I think we need to look at the system and make sure judges can make common sense decisions." As of now, though, judges no longer have the 'common sense' option for the cases I just cited, and hundreds of other criminal activities. I just cherry-picked the most outrageous examples of crimes that will not allow a judge to set bail or even incarcerate prior to preliminary hearing or trial.

Outrageous? How about these documented cases in just the first two weeks of January:

In New York City, a woman was arrested three times in one week for assaulting Jews. After the third arrest she was finally detained in a psych ward after being released the first two times as 'no threat to the community'. In Fairport, police had to release a man who pointed a loaded shotgun at someone, only to rearrest him again two hours later after threatening the same victim. In Peekskill, a man was arrested for breaking into a stranger's home, then arrested a little while later for breaking a window at police HQ on the way out after his release. In New York, a man who allegedly robbed four banks was released on January 1st under the new law, only to be rearrested for robbing another bank. They cannot hold him because he did not use a gun in the robbery, only a 'hold-up note'. In Hauppauge, a family says their son is dead because of the new law. Jordan Randolph was released with an appearance ticket for interfering with his ignition interlock (a remedy for DWI convictions in many courts) after three drunk driving convictions. He drove drunk again after release, and killed a SUNY Buffalo student. According to court records, Randolph has six felony convictions, six misdemeanor convictions and failed to appear in court five times. No threat to his community?

Our illustrious governor estimates that "...ninety per cent of defendants will be kept out of jail at least until their case is resolved." That's right, dear reader, ninety per cent of those arrested will be released by 'progressive' estimates.

Not only that, but there is also a new incentive program in New York City to help you make the decision to show up for court hearings after being released. No longer demanding bail money, NYC is opting to give New York Mets tickets and gift cards to miscreants who are no threat to the community for showing up in court. I'm not making this up.

So, back to what our law enforcers are saying. Seneca Falls police chief Stuart Pernstra says he's 'disgusted' with the new law. Our Tompkins County District Attorney reports his "distress" that the NY District Attorney's Association was not even involved or consulted in this plan. But New York Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie says he has no intention of modifying the law, while Cuomo and others like District Attorney Van Houtten say the law "could be tweaked".

Tweaked? Is that what they say? "Tweaked"? This law is an outrage and a danger to our community at large. No longer are the laws, the courts and law enforcement professionals being used to protect the community. We are now being told that the law serves everyone, including the drunk driver who kills, the methamphetamine producer and seller, the assaulter and endanger-er of our children, the arsonist, the gun-toter or drug seller on school grounds, the burglar, are all now to be treated and trusted with kid gloves because "they can't afford bail".

Our Tompkins County DA stated that "six" people had been released while awaiting trial from the county jail. Since, supposedly, our jailed population has gone from '60 or 70' down to 40, I maintain that there are a lot more people than "six" who have been allowed to roam the county roads and streets awaiting trial and potentially threatening to commit (re-commit?) another crime, due to their advocates claiming that life and bail is unfair to the poor, the indigent. Sorry folks, I may be painting with a very broad brush, but if you have done something to merit surveillance, arrest, confiscation of evidence and presentation to a duly elected arbiter of the law, then I guess you're right: life's unfair, but not because you're poor or the 'wrong' color.

The world has turned upside down, and I challenge Mr. Van Houtten, among other locals, to be 'fair' to the citizens, law abiding taxpayers and voters, to tell us, if not the names, then the charges which were leveled at those 'six people' that were released back into the community and make it public record for every arrest that comes through your office if the case is affected by this no-bail law. I have a feeling that the offices responsible (and the elected officials who have perpetrated this danger to the community) feel they can be immune to outrage because there is, in reality, no real source of news or reporters in this county for several years besides such example as the Lansing Star, which can't be everywhere, and does not rely on press releases, but actually being there at meetings and real quotations. The court, as well, owes it to the law abiding citizens of this county who mistakenly believe that they are being protected by the 'rule of law'. And I really don't want to hear anything about 'privacy concerns'. If you're arrested, its public record and you give up your right to so-called privacy, as many an editorial writer has stated when a drunk driver charge results in a plea to not publish their name in the paper.

The world has gone, apparently, mad and it's no wonder that people are disgusted with the present office holders (from the White House down to local dog catchers) and their loopy ideas that are making a joke of the notion of a 'nation of laws'. Who, exactly, are the laws intended to protect? Denigrate the word populism? Call it popular anger which is seething. To steal a line from Jon Stewart, "Are these people crazy?".

Or, maybe, steal the line from Howard Beall: "...go to your window right now and I want you to yell as loud as you can, 'I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it any more!' ".