Zeldin spells out plans for criminal justice reforms

Lee Zeldin
Republican gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin explains how he will tackle criminal justice reforms on his first day if elected governor. Photo off Facebook live, Oct. 13, 2022

Republican Gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin Thursday spelled out exactly what he will target regarding criminal justice reforms on his first day in office should he be elected governor.

During a press conference at Union Square in Manhattan, Zeldin said he would immediately “declare a crime emergency in the state of New York.” 

“The first day that I am in office, immediately after being sworn in as the governor of the state of New York, I will be signing an executive order that will suspend throughout the entire state of New York cashless bail, the Less is More Act, the HALT Act, the Discovery Law changes, and Raise the Age,” Zeldin said.

Zeldin connected his comments on crime reform to a shooting that occurred outside his home the previous week.

“My front yard became the site of a drive-by gang-related shooting,” Zeldin said. “There have been instances of crime inside of these five boroughs, and it’s really important for all of us to talk about it, to understand the victims… to understand the impact of laws.”

“It is time to take back our streets and our subways,” Zeldin concluded. “All law-abiding New Yorkers should be able to walk these streets and feel safe again.”

Zeldin’s reference to “cashless bail” is based on the bail reform act of 2019, which limits the number and types of crimes judges can set bail for. This legislation was passed as part of the state’s budget in April 2019 and has since been amended twice, according to the New York Times.

The Less is More Act, enacted in September 2021, sets limits on incarceration for technical violations of parole and allows for individuals to finish their parole early.

The HALT Act, or the Humane Alternatives to Long-Term Solitary Confinement Act passed in March 2021, places various restrictions on the use of segregated confinement for incarcerated persons.

Zeldin’s reference to “Discovery Law changes” is based on reforms to New York’s laws enacted in February 2020 regarding the exchanging of evidence before a trial. Under the reformed legislation, prosecutors are required to automatically provide the defense with all evidence it has access to within a specific timeframe, whereas before it was only required upon written request.

The Raise the Age legislation changed the age that a child can be prosecuted as an adult for criminal cases to 18 years old. Previously, the minimum adult age for New York criminal cases was 16 years old.

“I want to be able to work with the legislature,” Zeldin said. “I will immediately be sending bills to the state legislature to fix these laws.”

The “Day One” crime announcement can be watched here and the full press conference can be watched here.