Photo: Mariela Lombard / El Diario NY
It is expected that today Governor Kathy Hochul signs a new bill that would grant more leniency to ex-convicts on probation and could mean the release of inmates locked up for technical infractions of that criminal benefit, advanced last night New York Post.
While human rights activists applaud measures like these, others oppose it amidst the vicious circle that has been detected between the entry into force of the penal reform of New York in 2020 and the rise in crimes committed by ex-convicts.
The firm of the Law “Less in More” (Less is more) occurs when Rikers Island -the largest jail in NYC- faces a crisis of internal violence that has caused a acute shortage of personnel who want to work there. On the other side of Democratic politics, Republicans in New York continue to criticize the release of prisoners that was massed with the penal reform and to avoid contagion in the pandemic, while an increase in crime is observed in the large cities of the state.
The bill will remove the reasons for putting people back on parole behind bars, voiding technical parole violations such as being late for an appointment, missing a curfew, or finding alcohol or drugs in urine samples. And the law would speed up the time frame for judicial review of any violation and “good behavior” would benefit. According to activists, some 270 prisoners would immediately benefit, which would be 5% of the total of those arrested for violating their conditional freedoms.
With no surprises, Republican leaders in the state legislature have criticized the new measure. “At what point will New York Democrats help crime victims or keep dangerous people behind bars?” asked wryly in a statement the Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay (R-Syracuse).
“If there are responsible ways to improve the system, let’s make it work,” Barclay continued. “But the pendulum has drifted too far from public safety for a long time. The very people who advance and celebrate every pro-crime policy are strangely calm while crime rates skyrocket and bullets fly through the streets ”.
The firm will follow the continued chaos this week in Rikers, where a prisoner attempted to hang himself while politicians toured the facility to see conditions firsthand. State Senator Alessandra Biaggi (D-Bronx) described conditions there as “hellish.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled a plan this week to improve conditions at the facility, including taking measuresAs strong against the absenteeism of correctional officers there, he said.
In late August the mayor blamed the growing violence in NYC on the lack of trials carried out by the state criminal system, paralyzed by the coronavirus, stating that in total only 18 verdicts were issued in the first half of this year. The number is staggeringly low compared to 405 sentences during the same run-up to the pandemic, in 2019.
Another alarming report from the New York State Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) warns that NYC district attorneys last year refused to prosecute detainees at nearly double the 2019 rate, leaving 6,522 suspects out of judgement. In total, public prosecutors dropped all charges in 16.9% of the 38,635 felony cases that were closed in New York City during 2020.
In the recent past, various factors that analysts, union leaders, politicians and the citizens themselves have linked to the rise of violence Are the controversial bail reforms in NY state in force since January 2020 with the support of then-Governor Andrew Cuomo; the massive liberation of prisoners to avoid contagion by the coronavirus; the mental health crisis with more homelessness on the streets and the Metro; and the reduction of funds to the police promoted by De Blasio himself.
At the end of August it was also announced that the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC), the largest jail in Manhattan, known as the “New York Guantánamo”, will be closed at least temporarily, after several scandals and complaints about its operation, especially after the suicide of millionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein there in 2019, despite allegedly being under strict supervision.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.