Readers Write: Criminal justice reform badly conceived, executived

Readers Write: Criminal justice reform badly conceived, executived

In an effort to calm the public about state Democrats’ radical remaking of our criminal justice system, the author of a recent Island Now editorial makes a couple of seemingly soothing points.

First, they claim that the legislation applies to nonviolent crimes.

This is true. Unfortunately, it also applies to violent ones. Defendants arrested for certain homicides, assaults, domestic abuse offenses and child sex crimes would also be ineligible for bail and pretrial detention. Suggesting that these defendants pose a risk to public safety isn’t fear-mongering. It’s telling the truth.

Second, they claim that these laws are similar to ones recently passed in New Jersey. This is technically true but deeply misleading.

Though they are both progressive criminal justice laws, at least New Jersey’s iteration preserves a critical failsafe: judicial discretion. If a defendant is found to pose a significant risk to public safety, they can still be held until their trials.

This particular provision was the subject of a public referendum that earned the support of more than 60 percent of voters.

Third, the author claims that concerns about the impacts of discovery reform are “overblown” because “local governments are capable of making those necessary changes.”

How? Democrats did not allocate nearly enough state money to help fiscally-stressed localities comply with their mandates. That’s not a right-wing talking point. Just ask New York State Attorney General Tish James, a progressive stalwart who nonetheless conceded that local prosecutors might have to “double their support staffs” and invest “double-digit millions of dollars in solving the most complex cases.”

Reform is thoughtful. Reform is deliberative. Reform balances the interests of disparate constituencies.

This was not criminal justice reform. This was a missed opportunity. We should repeal these laws and get to work on a practical, bipartisan criminal justice package as soon as we begin a new legislative session.

State Assemblyman Ed Ra

District 19


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