ALBANY, NY- New York’s newly enacted bail reforms are in desperate need of, well, reform.
Law Enforcement Today has been reporting on the absurdity of the elimination of cash bail for weeks, as well as the consequences that have already occurred because of them.
Republicans in the pro-criminal state are trying to fix the legislation that is giving criminals a get out of jail free card.
“This is not what justice looks like,” New York State Senate Minority Leader John J. Flanagan said.
He made the comments during an announcement for a bill he introduced, which would repeal the dangerous bail reforms enacted on January 1 of this year.
“I think people are getting scared,” he continued. “People are feeling unsafe and more unsafe as each day goes by. It’s public safety and the well-being of the people we represent. We’re going to hammer this every single day. We’re going to make the point this is what the public cares about.”
Flanagan proposed the bill last week, reminding his colleagues that police officers and district attorneys warned them last year of the “unmitigated disaster” eliminating cash bail would produce.
“This could have been done the right way last year,” he said. “The public is less safe today as a result of the laws that were enacted last year. This is germane. This is important to the people we represent. And this should be the number one priority of the New York state senate today.”
He appealed to democrats to put voting reform aside while they focus on repealing the ill-conceived bail reform and keeping the public safe.
All democrats voted against the legislation, even though many have said the reforms need to be revisited. Every single one.
They admit there are problems with the bail reforms, and yet they refuse to fix it.
Although they are loathed to admit it, even Governor Andrew Cuomo and Attorney General Letitia James are saying “some” areas of the legislation “could be” changed.
“Changing the system,” Cuomo said last week, “which we started to do, is complicated, and then has a number of ramifications. There’s no doubt this is still a work in progress. And there are other changes that have to be made.”
Who could have predicted the bail reforms would be disastrous?
Oh that’s right. Police. Judges. Everyone with common sense.
Last week in a meeting with Jewish leaders, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “There is a chance now for the legislature to get it right. They did some very good reforms, but there are also things that need to be done, particularly empowering judges to determine if someone poses a threat to the surrounding community.”
Wait a minute. You mean, like, discretion?
You mean, like, what your republican colleagues have been telling you? What law enforcement has been telling you? What district attorneys, prosecutors, and judges have been telling you?
Democratic State Assemblyman Harry Bronson spoke on lawmakers seeking to reverse the laws that “targeted lower income people, who couldn’t make bail.”
“That system is unjust, and that’s why we’re trying to change. I think we have to keep in mind this is a major reform of the law, and been in place for roughly six days. We should give it some time to see how it’s going to work.”
Give it some time. Hmm. Ok, and what is the price to pay for that time? How many people have to get victimized, hurt, or worse, just to see if your experimental laws will have even a little bit of a positive outcome?
Let’s ask the victims of Tiffany Harris, the woman who was arrested 3 times in 5 days, assaulting a total of 5 people in those incidents thanks to bail reform.
Let’s ask the victim of Nicholas Jordan, the man who threated another man with a loaded shotgun and then went home on an appearance ticket and continued terrorizing the same victim.
Let’s ask the victims of Eugene Webb, the “serial slugger” who punched one woman so hard that it knocked out 2 of her teeth, and, hours later after being released on an appearance ticket, punched another woman so hard that she fell to the ground, at which point he kicked the back of her head.
I could keep going, but you get my point.
Democratic State Senator Todd Kaminsky, although he dislikes “the unfairness of a cash bail system that favors wealthier offenders,” said that he recognized that some of the crimes eligible for release without bail “are as serious, if not more serious, as felonies under cash bail reform that remain part of the criminal justice system.”
Kaminsky has proposed a bill to amend the law and make it possible to set cash bail for more offenses.
Well, shucks. What an idea.
Just two days after “bail reform” kicked in, even some New York democrats were thinking twice about it.
New York mayor Bill de Blasio put on his hindsight glasses and said:
“Where I think there is real agreement is that the bail reform law needs to be amended.”
No kidding Captain Obvious.
On Thursday, the failed presidential candidate, who was actually back in the city met with Jewish leaders in Brooklyn. While some in the community, especially in Jewish neighborhoods have asked de Blasio to declare an emergency, he did agree that bail reform may have taken place a bit too hastily and without enough community input.
Or apparently, input from anyone who works in law enforcement.
Back in November, New York Republicans warned that Democrats had:
“…failed to consider the very real danger that these sweeping changes will have on communities,” according to State Sen Sue Serino.
Both Serino State Sen. Patrick Gallivan introduced two bills on how the state would handle bail.
One bill would have allowed judges to consider an arrestee’s dangerousness when deciding bail. The second one would expand the crimes that would be considered domestic violence offenses for the purposes of setting bail. As of this writing, the bills are still pending.
“There is a chance now for the legislature to get it right,” said de Blasio. “They did some very good reforms, but there are also things that need to be done, particularly empowering judges to determine if someone poses a threat to the surrounding community.”
In Brooklyn, emotions were high after a woman who had been accused of assaulting three Hasidic women in Brooklyn was released, then committed a similar crime, was released, and then committed a third crime, all in a matter of days.
“When we release people that we have arrested for hate crimes, for assaulting Jewish people, it makes absolutely no sense why we would let those people out on the street without at least considering their future for potential harm to the public,” said City Councilman Joe Borelli of Staten Island.
This past weekend in Monsey, NY, a suburb of New York City, a man attacked five people with a machete. Both State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Deputy Leader Mike Gianaris were in Monsey on Thursday, but dismissed any connection between the hate crimes and the end of cash bail. Of course not.
“Well, the hate attacks have unfortunately been going up over the last couple of years, particularly in the Jewish community. Ant this obviously is a law that has been in effect for all of one day at this point. So there is obviously no linkage to that,” Gianaris said.
You sir, are tone deaf.
The spate of anti-Semitic crimes increased exponentially over the past 10 days on the run up to the implementation of the new bail law. In fact, several judges and prosecutors cited the law in the days leading up to Jan. 1 as justification for releasing criminals without bond since the new law would render the bond moot anyway. Gianaris is clueless.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office blew off criticism of the law in a release earlier this week, accusing opponents of “fear mongering” and compared the law to a similar measure in New Jersey.
While New Jersey eliminated cash bail by and large, the laws there empower judges to have discretion over whether or not someone posed a threat prior to their being released. New York’s law does not have that caveat. Also, the law in New York was snuck into a state budget bill and was negotiated in secret and out of public view.
So basically, when New York Democrats say that they received input from law enforcement and other stakeholders, they’re full of bird seed. Most law enforcement and judicial personnel, except for those who were cherry-picked to back the legislation, were kept out of the loop until the law was passed in the legislature and signed by Cuomo.
After the machete incident in Monsey, New York City Councilman Chaim Deutsch was not impressed with Cuomo’s selective outrage over the incident. Cuomo had called the incident “domestic terrorism”, but Deutsch was not impressed.
In a tweet, Deutsch said:
“With all due respect @NYGovCuomo- I don’t care what you call it. If 95% of the perpetrators are released hours after they commit attacks, it’ll keep happening.
Touché Mr. Deutsch. Touché.
This morning, we reported on how police said a man who strangled a woman with a karate belt then slit her throat was released with no bond under New York “bail reform”.
In July, Paul Barbaritano allegedly killed his friend, 29-year-old Nicole Jennings. And not in an “Oops, I threw a knife and it hit my friend, I’m so negligent” type of way.
Police say the 53-year-old man strangled Nicole with a karate belt and slit her throat. He’s been held in jail without bond since that day, while investigators put their case together to attempt to upgrade charges to murder.
While police didn’t say how Barbaritano and Nicole new each other, Albany Police Officer Steve Smith said this back when Barbaritano was first arrested:
“This investigation is still ongoing. It’s far from over. It’s possible there could be more charges, possible that the charges could be upgraded.”
Apparently, a friend (unknown if that was Nicole) called 911 to tell them that Barbaritano was possibly going to hurt himself inside of his apartment. Police arrived to do a welfare check and found Barbaritano with multiple self-inflicted stab wounds.
While they were there investigating, they found Nicole’s body in the bedroom of the apartment, deceased.
You know, from the karate belt around her neck, squeezing the life out of her lungs. Oh yeah, and the slashing of her throat, let’s not forget that.
Barbritano was transported to Albany Medical Center Hospital, where he was treated for reportedly “non-life-threatening injuries.” Lucky him.
If you’ll recall, New York’s bail reform legislation (sneakily inserted by Governor Andrew Cuomo into a budget bill) is allegedly intended to achieve economic equality in the justice system. To do this, there is now no bail required for persons arrested of most misdemeanor crimes, as well as “nonviolent felony crimes.”
Huh. Cuomo’s definition of “nonviolent” must be different than mine. Under the legislation, this isn’t a serious enough offense to require bail.
Albany County District Attorney David Soares is among many who are unhappy with this legislation. Soares argued in court before Barbaritano’s release that the man admitted to being the cause of Nicole’s death.
“We’ve been painted as fearmongers, and what you’ve observed today in court is the new reality.”
This is what the new criminal justice system in New York will be moving forward.”
I’m not sure I would still call it a criminal justice system, but I get what he’s saying.
The Albany County Public Defenders Office also released a statement, saying that this is why the legislation was passed; to “promote fair and equal justice.” They also said Barbaritano will be “connected to mental health services and treatment.”
Too bad Nicole won’t be afforded that same opportunity.
Albany Police Officers Union President Gregory McGee said in his own statement that Barbaritano’s release was causing further harm to the Albany police, and to Nicole’s family.
Well, at least someone is thinking of the victim and her family.
The Public Defenders Office also stated that the incident was a “horrific accident” and Barbaritano wasn’t trying to kill Nicole.
I’m sure that brings her family an untold amount of comfort.
Barbaritano was released without bail on Thursday on his own recognizance. This means that he signed a piece of paper promising to appear at the set court date.
I hope they made him pinky-promise too. It probably means more.
A spokesperson for the DA’s office said there are two other bail review cases coming in the next few days.
One case involves a man accused of slashing a woman’s face open. The second involves a man charged with entering a residence, raping, and strangling a woman.
On Thursday night, we reported on a New York man who shot a cop, then was busted for selling drugs and just released on no bond as well.
In 2009, Tyquan Rivera, who was 15 at the time, shot and wounded a Rochester (NY) police officer, Anthony DiPonzo. He was convicted of attempted murder and got a whopping 10 years in prison. In February of last year, Rivera was released from prison.
Since he was all rehabilitated and everything, he decided to go into business for himself.
Unfortunately for Rivera, the business he went into was selling Fentanyl. You know, the drug that is responsible for a near epidemic of dead people.
He was arrested last month and charged with selling fentanyl to two undercover officers in Rochester. He was charged with third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance.
Rivera was one of five men arrested in what law enforcement officials called a “lengthy narcotics investigation” that started last August and involved officers from a number of police agencies. Rivera was the only on charged with sale; the other four were charged with criminal possession.
At the time of the arrest, prosecutor Matthew Schwartz said it was a significant arrest.
“To arrest somebody who’s alleged to be involved in narcotics trafficking is significant,” he said.
There’s obviously an opioid epidemic that this community is facing, so even if it’s one at a time that we can take somebody off the streets so to speak who’s alleged to be providing these dangerous narcotics to people, it’s a good thing.”
Wow sounds like New York is tough on people dealing in Fentanyl. Wrong.
On Thursday, Rivera was released without bail. That’s right, a convicted murderer, out on the streets less than a year, and who is caught dealing the deadly drug Fentanyl, was released.
He was originally held on $100,000 bond, but under the new state bail laws that went into effect Jan 1, the felony charges against him did not qualify for bail or bond.
“The charges that Mr. Rivera is currently facing are not qualifying offenses and as a result, the judge frankly is required to release him,” according to Schwartz.
“Our hands are certainly tied. This is somebody who has previously been convicted of shooting a police officer. He has a prior violent felony conviction on his record and was currently faced with allegations of selling fentanyl.”
However, according to terms of release set by Judge Sam Valleriani, Rivera must wear an ankle bracelet, or more precisely an “electronic monitoring device.” The poor, misunderstood convict will not be able to travel and must check in with pretrial services. What an unbelievably tough state New York is on criminals. Poor criminals.
Judge Sam Valleriani decides Rivera must be released without bail.
Agrees he must contact pretrial services, wear electronic monitoring and monitoring must be set up.
— Charles Molineaux (@WHEC_cmolineaux) January 2, 2020
Rivera and his ambulance chasing attorney were pleased with the decision of Valleriani.
“I thought it was a fair decision and Mr. Rivera and I are pleased with the decision,” said James Napier, who represented Rivera.
Really Mr. Napier? Rivera is “pleased?” He should be freaking ecstatic.
The law has received harsh criticism from the law enforcement community, political leaders (Republicans obviously, Democrats love criminals), and victims. Have no fear, Gov. Cuomo is going to fix this mess, right?
Not quite. In a statement from Cuomo’s office, they said the following:
“Despite the fear mongering being peddled by a vocal minority, other states such as New Jersey that recently passed bail reform laws and ended cash bail for misdemeanors and non-violent felonies have shown that overall crime has decreased with no statistically significant changes regarding re-offenses or court appearances.
We carefully considered the views of law enforcement to ensure we enacted balanced reforms that were long overdue and that will bring greater fairness to New York’s criminal justice system.
Those arrested and charged with non-violent crimes will still have their day in court to answer to the charges.”
What a long-winded pile of garbage that is.
First of all, New Jersey’s bail reform is vastly different than New York’s. In New Jersey, judges conduct individual risk assessments based on the suspects criminal history and the charges they face before deciding whether to hold them or release them with or without monitoring until trial.
That is a huge difference. New York judges have no such discretion. They can only order bail if someone is charged with a serious felony. Period.
Also, the law is subject of a lawsuit filed by the family of Christian Rodgers, a 26-year-old who was shot to death in 2017 in Vineland, NJ by someone who had been arrested just a few days earlier and was released under the new bail reform law signed into law by former Gov. Chris Christie.
Jules Black, who was accused of killing Rodgers, had been arrested 26 times going back to 2004 and was picked up by police in April 2004 during a traffic stop where he was found with a 9mm handgun in his car.
Despite a number of prior felony convictions, a judge found that Black was safe enough to be back on the streets pending his trial. He shot and killed Rodgers four days later.
Sounds like New Jersey is a real success story there Cuomo.
We’ve already reported on the vast failings of New York’s bail reform laws. Here is another one from last week.
Last Friday, Christopher M. Seamans, a three-time convicted bank robber was back to his old tricks. He decided to stick up the Pioneer Savings Bank in Colonie, NY. He was arrested on Saturday and charged with the robbery.
Thanks to Gov. Cuomo and the geniuses who populate the state house in Albany, Seamans was released without bail at his court appearance on Tuesday. Seamans has done prison time for three other bank robberies over a 14-year period.
Seamans appeared in Albany County Court, where judge William Carter ordered Seamans released on his own recognizance—basically a 4-time loser is trusted to make his court appearance when required. Seamans had been charged with robbery and grand larceny charges.
Did you know that Law Enforcement Today has a private new home for those who support emergency responders and veterans? It’s called LET Unity, and it’s where we share the untold stories of those patriotic Americans. Every penny gets reinvested into giving these heroes a voice. Check it out today.
Carter ordered the release after being informed by an assistant district attorney that Seamans qualified for release without bail due to the new bail law that takes effect on Jan 1. Isn’t that special?
As has been widely reported, the new law implemented by the virtue signaling Cuomo and Democrat state legislature prohibits defendants who are arrested for most misdemeanors and non-violent felonies from being required to post cash bail. Of course, supporters of the bill said that cash bail unfairly targeted poor defendants (and apparently bank robbers) and kept them in jail for long periods of time while awaiting trial.
In this case Seamans, who has served time in federal prison in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York for bank robberies went into the bank at around 4:36 p.m. on Dec. 27, approached a teller and demanded money. No weapon was displayed but was implied since Seamans kept his hand inside his jacket.
He was given an undisclosed amount of cash and fled. He left the scene in a blue 2005 Mercedes-Benz ML350 SUV…nice wheels, but we suppose bank robbers can afford it. No other customers were in the bank during the heist and nobody was injured, police said.
Colonie police said that they received several tips about Seamans after surveillance images were posted to social media. Investigators ultimately used the image to confirm his identity.
Colonie police were assisted by DeWitt police after they began watching a residence in that town. When Seamans left with his wife and two children in the same Mercedes used in the robbery, he was stopped and taken into custody without incident. Like so many good criminals, Seamans was playing great family man on the way to a Syracuse basketball game with his family when he was arrested. Father of the year candidate right there.
Police found evidence tying Seamans to the robbery inside the vehicle, however the money robbed from the bank was not found.
Federal records indicated that Seamans was convicted in 2005 and 2010 in connection with bank robberies in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, where a combined $8097 was stolen. In 2011, he was sentenced to four years and nine months in prison for robbing a bank in Grand Gorge, NY where $7,727 was realized.
While so-called reformers think the new laws are the best thing since sliced bread, opposition has been coming from law enforcement authorities as well as some capital region state lawmakers, who have slammed both the new law and Seamans’ release Tuesday.
In a released statement, the Colonie Police Department showed the disgust a lot of police agencies in New York are feeling. “Happy New Year everyone,” the department said in a released statement. “Especially happy for our most recent bank robber.” Ouch.
The sheriff of Saratoga County, Michael Zurlo, also expressed his feelings. “Yet another example of the dangerous individuals being set free on our streets thanks to the ‘progressive’ agenda of our governor and legislators,” he wrote on social media.
It will be interesting to see the spin coming out of Albany when one of these miscreants is released on bond and then ends up killing someone.
Meanwhile a widening group of other officials are pushing back against the so-called reforms.
State Sen. Jim Tedisco, R-Glenville in November blasted them as a “get-out-of-jail-free card for criminals.” How prophetic.
“They came with an agenda,” he said.
Law enforcement officials, prosecutors and Republican state lawmakers insist that they’re not generally against the criminal justice reforms. They are however opposed to the law which was passed by the Democratic-controlled state legislature with little to no input from law enforcement authorities, and contend that emboldened criminals will be roaming the streets with little concern about getting caught since they will likely be released, including those charged with manslaughter, assault and sex crimes
Mary Beth Walsh (R-Ballston) said:
“We’re taking away the discretion of the judiciary and public safety is going to be compromised because of this,” she said. “Some of the worst things in Albany are the things that are rushed through like this was.”
For his part, Zurlo had warned that already stretched officers were going to be spending a great deal of their valuable patrol time looking for suspects who skipped out on court appearances. He said:
“Currently I have close to 300 warrants looking for people. I anticipate that to probably double or maybe triple. Right now, our road patrol is maxed.”
It will only be a matter of time before New York faces the same type of lawsuit that was filed in New Jersey. While politicians in New York play kissy face with criminals, it is the public at large who is suffering and who is being put at risk by this idiotic, short-sighted attempt at social justice.
Want to make sure you never miss a story from Law Enforcement Today? With so much “stuff” happening in the world on social media, it’s easy for things to get lost.