Advocates of so-called criminal justice reform are so good at concocting a utopian vision of criminal behavior under their jailbreak proposals that they start believing their own virtual reality. The problem for them is that criminals on the streets don’t work like liberal arts textbooks on “restorative justice.” Now, New York Democrats are learning this the hard way. They have lost control of the narrative because of the logical consequences of their illogical legislation.
Anthony J.M. Hart of Glen Falls, New York, is the latest poster child – one of many – for New York’s abolish bail law, which has been phased in by state judges over the past few months. Hart was arrested in Warren County on November 7 for setting fire to a vacant home. He was released on his own recognizance several days later because the arson charge did not qualify for a bail requirement, meaning the judge had to release him immediately.
This is the sort of people who are considered “low-level, nonviolent” threats by the Left. But as Reagan said, leftist ideology is rooted in “utopian presumptions about human nature.” Well, Hart’s human nature kicked in, and on Tuesday, he was arrested for raping a 14-year-old girl. Hart was charged with second-degree rape and second-degree criminal sexual act for an incident that is alleged to have happened in Warren County on December 31.
There is no limit to the number of needless victims that will be created as a result of people with this sort of threat potential being let out on the streets. In order to push this and similar legislation, liberals (in some states, with the help of Republicans) propagate a talking point that our jails are filled with low-level criminals who aren’t a threat, and incarceration just winds up being costly and counterintuitive. It’s a great talking point. But the data shows the opposite – that almost everyone serving even a little time is a repeat offender. Moreover, there are many violent criminals who escape justice.
Now the reality on the streets is catching up to that fact. When leftists refer to crimes as “nonviolent” and “low-level,” they obfuscate an important point. Given the threshold for probable cause and certain evidence standards, more often than not, some of the most violent criminals are undercharged and are most certainly under-convicted. On paper, second-degree assault or third-degree arson doesn’t sound so bad, but often the worst beatings that horrify the public only result in a second-degree charge, not to mention an eventual plea deal, driving down the punishment even further.
For example, on Tuesday night, 20-year-old Jay Vasquez-Paulino was caught on tape in the Bronx beating a woman violently and threatening her with a knife.
Vasquez-Paulino was released on an appearance ticket, pursuant to the new bail law. Anyone would agree he is a violent threat, but ultimately, because the victim didn’t sustain major injuries, Vasquez-Paulino was only charged with second-degree menacing, attempted third-degree assault, fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, and second-degree harassment. None of those crimes qualify for a bail hearing because they were regarded as low-level.
But the reality is the overwhelming number of hard-core assaults are only charged as second or third-degree offenses. Ditto with rape and murder charges. In fact, even Reeaz Khan, the illegal alien charged with the horrific rape and murder of 92-year-old Maria Fuertes in Queens, was only charged with second-degree murder. He was also charged with first-degree rape and is finally being held. But again, even some of the most horrific criminal acts don’t result in charges that the system treats seriously enough. Now, they are being downgraded even further. The core problem with these jailbreak proposals is that criminal charges are very technical and do not reflect the threat level of the offender. New York took away the ability of the judge to analyze the threat level as well as prior criminal history to set a level of bail.
It all gets back to the dirty little secret of the criminal justice system. We have a ton of violent crime in this country. Most of the people serving meaningful time in prison are violent repeat offenders, and there is a heck of a lot more crime on the streets because of loopholes, plea deals, and technicalities. Thus, if your obsession is to reduce the prison population rather than reducing crime, there is only one way to do it – release violent criminals. The problem is that doesn’t sound quite as mellifluous as the release of “first-time, low-level, nonviolent, reform-minded” criminals. And the public is catching on.
Author: Daniel Horowitz
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.
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