Bail Reform’s Continued Disaster Streak

A Column from the Desk of Assemblyman Karl Brabenec (R,C-Deerpark)

Earlier this week, Assembly and Senate Minority members united for a press conference about the ongoing problem of bail reform. Since its implementation in 2019, our state has heard case after case, concern after concern, about bail reform and the leniency in letting dangerous, repeat offenders back into our neighborhoods. This press conference included Tammy Patrick, another New Yorker suffering from bail reform’s consequences, who lost her father earlier this year to a repeat offender who invaded the man’s home, after being released from jail on “bail reform” just days earlier. Our Conference has offered time and again to spearhead reasonable changes with our Majority colleagues, but they have routinely decided to ignore the facts in favor of political talking points. This week, we once again offered our solutions.

One of the areas we need to change is the way New York treats its law enforcement. Following a barrage of calls to ‘defund the police’ and a concurrent stripping of funds, our local men and women in blue have been prevented from being able to do their jobs. Our Conference is proposing measures such as the SAFER Communities Grant Program, designed to invest in critical investigatory and prosecutorial resources to increase case clearance rates for homicide and gun crimes. In addition, we want to ensure that familial DNA can be given to law enforcement to add yet another investigatory tool to their toolchest when investigating serious crimes. I believe these measures are practical and easily applicable in the short term.

Something else my colleagues and I have been calling for is the repair of the criminal justice system, which I think New Yorkers statewide can agree needs some tweaking. One of the big changes we want to see is rolling back the disastrous bail and discovery laws and providing for judicial discretion to stop the revolving door in our criminal justice system. Our system needs to have the strength to hold criminals accountable and keep them away from the neighborhoods we’re trying to keep safe. Another move we’re continuing to push for is to eliminate the trend of soft-on-crime policies being advanced by the Majority lawmakers, including the so-called “Clean Slate” Act, which proposes clearing an individual’s conviction record once they meet certain milestones like time passed or release for parole or probation. Criminal records should be made public so families can responsibly protect themselves. Serving time is enough penance in the eyes of the law, but individuals deserve the right to know who is living in their communities and interacting with their families. Finally, we want to increase penalties for habitual, repeat offenders who commit crimes that can harm their fellow New Yorkers’ quality of life. This is perhaps the biggest concern for our Conference moving forward, as repeat offenders have been the ones to cause chaos and pain because of bail reform’s implementation. Their rehabilitation needs to be addressed more profoundly.

These measures are just a few of the things my colleagues and I are continuing to fight for as we enter this new session. Gov. Kathy Hochul has gone on record as saying bail reform needs readjusting, and for the sake of all of us, I hope she was genuine when she said that. We deserve a New York that’s safe to live in, that’s safe for all of us to enjoy.