Former Town of Hempstead Supervisor and Democrat Laura Gillen said the Republican Party’s messaging on crime worked in New York due to the state’s cashless bail laws and called for the repeal of the legislation following her loss in the 4th Congressional District election.
Gillen said on Twitter that the Republican’s focus on crime failed throughout most of the United States, but New York’s exception is because of the “wildly unpopular cashless bail laws.”
Repealing the laws, she said, would better allow Democrats to win back the 3rd and 4th Congressional Districts in 2024.
“New York’s cashless bail law was rushed when it passed and did not sufficiently consider the realities of criminal courts and the need for judicial discretion,” Gillen tweeted. “Albany should get rid of this law and do better. If they don’t, Republicans will continue to use it forcefully and with great effect against democrats. Without it casting a shadow over every Democratic candidate in the state, we can win seats back in two years.”
New York implemented bail reform laws in January 2020, with modifications being passed in April that same year. State officials said the modified laws eliminated pretrial detention and optional cash bail in an estimated 90 percent of cases.
While judges throughout New York have the option to set bail in almost any case involving a violent felony, they may also release individuals in almost all other cases on their own recognizance or enact certain terms to make sure they ultimately return to court.
What judges cannot do, under the new bail reform laws, is to consider an individual’s “dangerousness” when setting those terms.
Gillen, who expressed her gripes with the bail laws throughout her campaign, ultimately lost to Republican Anthony D’Esposito, a former NYPD detective and Hempstead councilman. D’Esposito received 137,899, or 51.9% of votes, compared to Gillen’s 127,748, or 48.08%.
Fellow Democrat and former Nassau County Executive Laura Curran attributed her loss to running on the same ballot as state Sen. Todd Kaminsky, who was bashed by his Republican opponent Anne Donnelly for “authoring” state bail reform laws.
Curran, in December, told WABC “there’s not a doubt in my mind that I would have won if he were not on the ticket.”
While Curran’s prediction of a “bloodbath” for Democratic candidates in the 2022 midterm elections did not prove true on a national scale, the “red wave” made its presence known on the North Shore.
Aside from Gillen’s loss, a Congressional seat that had not been Republican in 25 years, the 3rd Congressional District also flipped to Republican as George Santos defeated Democrat Robert Zimmerman. Santos received 142,017, or 54.2% votes while Zimmerman received 120,060 or 45.8% votes.
Though Zimmerman, like Gillen, said that modifications to the state’s bail reform laws were needed, Santos’ messaging was that of being “completely against” the bail laws rather than Zimmerman wanting to “advocate for changes” to the law.
Blakeman is one of the more fierce opponents of the bail reform laws, which were a primary focus throughout his campaign for county executive in 2021.
The county executive said the bail reform laws directly impacted Nassau seeing a 75% increase in major crimes during the first quarter of 2022 compared to last year.
“We have to get serious about changing the laws so that we don’t give criminals more rights than victims,” Blakeman said in an interview with Blank Slate Media earlier this year. “Unfortunately, that’s the way it is now. We’ve got people committing crime after crime and judges are not given the discretion whether or not to hold these people and I think it’s a huge mistake.”
He said there is a “state of lawlessness” throughout New York and it has resulted in repeat offenders coming back to Nassau County to commit crimes. Until the laws are modified, Blakeman said, police departments throughout New York will have a more difficult time doing their jobs.
Statistics showed that 1,662 major crimes were committed throughout Nassau County from Jan. 1-March 31, up from 950 crimes during the same time frame last year.
In Nassau’s 3rd and 6th Precincts, which make up a majority of North Shore communities, 645 major crimes occurred during the three-month span this year, compared to 333 last year, an increase of 93%.
The list of major crimes includes murder, rape, criminal sexual acts, sexual abuse, commercial robberies, other robberies, assault felonies, residential burglaries, other burglaries, stolen vehicles and grand larceny.
Some of the main increases came from stolen vehicles, which increased by more than 250% throughout the county over the past year.
The 3rd Precinct reported 35 stolen vehicle incidents in 2022, nearly a 170% increase from 13 last year, while the 6th Precinct saw a 750% increase in stolen vehicles with 51 this year, compared to six last year, according to the statistics.
Blakeman said the issue with the state’s bail reform laws is that bail is not required regardless of how many cars someone steals.
Other increases in Nassau’s major crimes this year included nearly 400 more grand larceny incidents, according to the statistics.
During the first three months of 2021, a total of 592 grand larceny incidents occurred throughout Nassau County.
That number rose by nearly 65% to 972 cases this year. The 3rd Precinct reported a 78% increase of grand larceny incidents with 296 this year, while the 6th Precinct reported a nearly 90% increase of grand larceny incidents with 113 in 2022.
During the first three months of 2022, Nassau County saw a 55% increase in all robberies, a 45% increase in all burglaries and a 34% increase in assault felony incidents, according to the statistics.
A total of 5,230 major crimes were reported throughout Nassau last year, with 3,201 being grand larceny incidents, according to numbers obtained by Blank Slate Media from a Freedom of Information Law request submitted to the Nassau County Police Department.
More than 16,000 “other crimes” were reported throughout the county in 2021, according to the statistics.