New York City Councilman James Gennaro criticized Governor Kathy Hochul and the state Legislature in Albany for their lack of action in addressing the growing crime rate by clamping down on the loose bail reform laws during a press conference Monday at Pomonok Houses.
Gennaro called upon them to look into passing criminal justice reform so that dangerous individuals who were arrested can’t just walk out of jail the next day and commit more crimes.
According to Gennaro, Albany has addressed very few public safety concerns. He believes this has played a big role in the rising crime rate not just in New York City, but across the state. He also said that the state needs to allow judges to start remanding defendants based on the potential danger they pose. As of now, New York is the only state in the country that does not let judges do that.
“Major crimes in New York City spiked nearly 60% in February compared to the same month in 2021,” Gennaro said. “This month, major crimes across New York City are up 38.4% from last year. Overall in 2022, the NYPD tracked increases across every major crime category and recorded a 41% increase in overall major crime during the first four months of 2022. The statistics speak for themselves.”
Another notable criticism was that criminal records for underage criminals are sealed, which leads to many would-be repeat offenders showing up as first-time offenders, giving some a better opportunity in being allowed back on the streets.
In addition to requesting that judges could take dangerousness into account, other requests related to bail made by New York City Mayor Eric Adams to Governor Hochul include the demand for accountability and transparency from the system in his legislative proposals blueprint to end gun violence. The only action taken was allowing judges to include new considerations in determining whether or not a defendant may be a flight risk. These include whether they caused serious harm, violated an Order of Protection (OOP) or have a history of using or possessing guns.
With regards to discovery, his office asked for the removal of overly burdensome disclosures and allowing district attorneys to move forward with gun charges earlier, regardless of whether or not all evidence was turned over, as long as they have done so at least 30 days before the trial.
While overly burdensome disclosures have not been removed, one change was made to ease the process. The requirement that discovery is provided for traffic infractions and local law petty offenses where no sense of imprisonment is authorized has been eliminated. However, every piece of related evidence is still required to be turned over, regardless of its relevancy. Prosecutors also must turn over all materials regardless of relevance within 20 to 35 days.
Mayor Adams also requested that a minor can be charged in criminal court instead of family court if they don’t reveal how they obtained a gun used in a crime they committed. Additionally, he asked that judges be able to consider the fact that minors like these were carrying guns. Neither of these was addressed by the governor or legislature.
The only changes made based on the requests made by Mayor Adams concerned gun trafficking. The number of guns required for being charged with violations of criminal sale of a firearm in the first degree was lowered from 10 within a year to three. Additionally, the number of guns for the criminal sale of a firearm in the second degree was lowered from five within a year to three. The presumption of intent to sell firearms was also lowered to three instead of five.