Op-Ed: Let’s Adopt a Sensible Model of Bail Reform and Abandon a “One Size Fits All” Disaster

Mike Zumbluskas in suit looking to his left
Mike Zumbluskas, Republican challenger to State Senator Liz Krueger (Photo credit: Never Sink Media)

I was flabbergasted to hear Senator Liz Krueger (D-East Side) assert that crime had not  increased since she voted for the bail reform that took effect at the beginning of this year. She  made the comments in our debate that was moderated by Susan Lerner of Common Cause on  Monday evening.  

Citywide, as of October 4th, major crimes like murder are up 36% year-to-date; shootings  (up 98% YTD), burglaries (up 42% YTD) and auto theft (up 62% YTD) have all increased by  double digits. Even in the two precincts that fall within Senator Krueger’s own comparatively  safe 28th Senate District, the 13th and 17th, year-to-date burglaries are up 78% and auto thefts are  up 61% in the 13th Precinct; and, in the 17th Precinct, those same crimes are up 55% and a  staggering 236%, respectively.  

But even more troubling than the Senator’s disconnect from the realities of her own  district was her outright failure to take any level of responsibility for her vote on bail reform.  

Instead, Senator Krueger placed the blame on police and district attorneys for not charging  offenders sufficiently.  

Anyone who has walked the streets of Manhattan, and particularly my fellow residents of  Senator Krueger’s own district, knows that crime, and particularly quality of life and petty  crimes, like public lewdness, graffiti, and shoplifting, have grown exponentially. Indeed,  residents in and around the 28th Senate District have grown so accustomed to the chronic  disorder and quality-of-life crimes that they now often don’t even bother to report these offenses  to police.  

After all, what’s the point of reporting petty crimes? The offender will be back on the  streets in a few hours, thanks to Senator Krueger and her colleagues’ bail “reforms.” And cops,  under pressure from Senator Krueger and her like-minded colleagues in Albany and City Hall,  have so demonized the NYPD that many officers prefer to avoid engaging with suspects in all  but the most serious crimes. Cops reasonably fear that confrontations with suspects may grow  violent, causing the officer to suffer sanctions for defending himself or taking violent steps  necessary to effect the arrest. The NYPD is ever mindful that the Eric Garner tragedy grew out  of Mr. Garner allegedly selling loose cigarettes, or “loosies”.  

A more thoughtful and pragmatic approach to bail reform has been introduced with  Assembly Bill A11047 and Senate Bill S08987 by Assemblymember Andrew Goodell and  Senator George Borello, respectively.  

Their Bill, which they hope will gain bipartisan support, follows the federal bail policies  that have been successful across the country. The bill memorandum says it would allow judges  discretionary authority to impose bail based on such things as “the risk of defendant’s flight to  avoid prosecution, the risk of failing to appear based on the defendant’s record of prior criminal  convictions or prior failures to appear for court, and the danger the defendant poses to the safety  of other persons or the community”. 

But the Goodell/Borello bill goes further than the federal rules to ensure that the tragedies  that sometime arise among the incarcerated, such as occurred with Kalief Browder, never occur  again. The Goodell/Borello bill would require mandatory reviews of a defendant’s bail every  few weeks, depending on the severity of the crime, from a monthly review of bail for defendants  charged with Class A misdemeanors, like graffiti and petit larceny, to a quarterly review of those  charged with Class B felonies, like homicide, violent assault, armed robbery, and rape.  

Senator Krueger and her Albany colleagues have sacrificed public safety, public order,  and local quality of life for an unproven, dogmatic, universal “cut ‘em loose” no cash bail policy  that has demonstrably endangered her constituents and denigrated their quality of life. When I’m  elected, I will join my more pragmatic Senate colleagues in Albany to pass bail legislation that  maintains the principle of “Innocent until proven guilty”, prohibit using bail as leverage for a  plea deal, and ensure humane bail policies, all while protecting my neighbors and New York’s  neighborhoods statewide.  

Mike Zumbluskas is the Republican and Independence Party candidate for the NYS Senate in  Manhattan’s 28th Senate District.

[Editor’s Note: It is the policy of New York County Politics to run any op-ed it receives, with few exceptions. The op-eds do not necessarily reflect the viewpoints of NYCP.]

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