Here's the real cost — in hard numbers — of those disastrous bail-‘reform' laws

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arrests, crime, criminal justice reforms, progressives, shoplifting, violence

Michelle Go was shoved to her death by alleged repeat offender Simon Martial at a subway platform in Times Square. J.C. Rice

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If the city’s crime rate in 2019 had stayed the same in 2020 and 2021, there’d be 301 more New Yorkers alive today and 1,900 fewer shooting victims. What happened? Bail “reform.”

The Legislature passed the disastrous reforms in 2019; they went into effect Jan. 1, 2020, with a first effort to correct them taking effect that July 1.

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New data from the state’s Office of Court Administration clearly shows that the “fix” did not go nearly far enough. The data cover arrests made from July 1, 2020, through Aug. 30, 2020, the first two months of the new law, and prove what many prosecutors and police have been saying: The rise in crime is due to repeat offenders being released back onto the streets after arrest.

Progressive advocates tout an analysis by the Albany Times Union that showed only 2% of defendants released under the new laws were “arrested for a violent felony offense while their case was pending.” That’s technically true, but that 2% statistic is irrelevant to the debate, and, in any case, the TU is interpreting the numbers incorrectly.

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Its analysis took all arrests statewide where the defendant was eligible for release under the new law — over 100,000 cases — and looked at re-arrest rates for those defendants. Included in those 100,000 cases were first-time offenders charged with shoplifting, petty larceny, driving under the influence, trespassing and every other misdemeanor arrest, as well as first-time nonviolent felony offenders. Yet these are cases where bail was very rarely set even under the “pre-reform” bail law, absent very unusual circumstances.

arrests, crime, criminal justice reforms, progressives, shoplifting, violence

Miraida Gomez’s 11-month-old daughter, Catherine, was shot in the face by a stray bullet at 2386 Valentine Avenue in the Bronx.

Christopher Sadowski

If you look at defendants arrested for felonies in just the first two months of the 2020 bail laws (again, from July 1, 2020 to Aug. 30, 2020), you see a far different story. Here’s what the data show:

In New York City in that time period, 3,680 defendants were arraigned for felonies. Fully 70% of them (2,564) had a prior or pending case at the time of arrest. Among those 2,564, there were 2,401 pending cases, and more than 11,539 prior convictions. These were not first-time offenders. Nor were they last-time offenders: OCA data shows 31% of these people were re-arrested before their case was disposed.

And note the qualifier: “before their case was disposed.” That number does not include arrests while awaiting sentence or after sentence. In fact, OCA initially included those arrests with the data but then quickly “corrected” it, eliminating almost 25,000 re-arrests, thereby reducing the re-arrest rate.

arrests, crime, criminal justice reforms, progressives, shoplifting, violence

NYPD officers arrest a suspect who allegedly robbed a Rite Aid pharmacy on 8th Avenue 22 St.- 23 St. in Manhattan on Nov. 16, 2021.

William Farrington

Looking more closely at these felony arrests, 594 of the defendants had a prior pending violent felony offense — burglary, attempted murder, assault, rape or kidnapping — when they were arraigned. Incredibly, 190, or one in three of them, were released on no bail on their new case. And 58% (111 out of 190) were arrested again before their case was disposed.

Note, too, that 915 of these felony defendants had a prior pending non-violent felony arrest — car theft, grand larceny, drugs and commercial burglary, for example — with 375 released on no bail. Of those freed, 62% (231 defendants) were arrested again before their case was disposed.

Of the defendants arrested for home burglaries, 89% had a prior or pending case. And of the 73 released with no bail, 40 (or 55%) were re-arrested while their case was pending. By contrast, only 15% of the home-burglary defendants who had bail set were re-arrested.

arrests, crime, criminal justice reforms, progressives, shoplifting, violence

Kristal Bayron-Nieves, 19-years-old, was fatally shot by Winston Glynn in a botched robbery at a Burger King in Harlem.

Christopher Sadowski

For repeat commercial burglars, the re-arrest rate was 59%; for second-degree robbery degree, 38%. Indeed, the same was true for almost every repeat felony offender. Not just felonies, but misdemeanors, too: For petty larceny, the re-arrest rate was 50%, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, 45%.

Our criminal-justice system has boiled down to: Commit crime, get arrested, get out, repeat. Our legislators have to allow judges to remand people who are a danger to public safety, a change previously supported by former Mayor de Blasio, former Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman and then-Brooklyn Borough President and now Mayor Eric Adams, among others.

Our politicians have simply been ignoring what’s been happening on the street. It’s as if all the additional crime victims are acceptable collateral damage of their progressive agenda. When do victims get factored into the debate over bail reform?

Jim Quinn was executive district attorney in the Queens DA’s office, where he served for 42 years.

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