The anti-bail saga playing out in states across the country has already stripped countless victims of their rights, created legions of fugitives and heaped millions of dollars of new costs onto the shoulders of taxpayers. But what’s unfolding now in New York State may take the cake when it comes to “bail reform” atrocities. New York State recently enacted laws allowing people accused of crimes including vehicular homicide to walk free on the promise that they’ll show up for their court date.
But people who use their cars as weapons are not the only ones Governor Andrew Cuomo has decided are “victims” of the bail bondsman. He’s also decided that those accused of criminally negligent homicide and 2nd degree manslaughter also shouldn’t be bothered by that nasty bail business. To the governor, these people are just like you and me, except they’ve killed someone. And in the governor’s world that’s no big deal.
While the governor goes about his business safely ensconced behind a phalanx of security professionals average citizens are the ones who will have to deal with the fallout from his mind-boggling decisions. And Orange County prosecutors have had enough. No one wants to see someone accused of some minor offense molder in jail because they’re broke. But finding a solution that works for those people is quite different from releasing someone accused of using their car to kill someone.
Orange County Assistant District Attorney Chris Borek also points out that the anti-bail measures signed into law by Governor Cuomo allow major narcotics offenders to walk as well. “We’re not allowed to ask for any amount of bail” Bolek says of such defendants. Which means the people who are flooding New York streets with drugs and ruining countless lives are also caught and released. Because, after all, in Governor Cuomo’s world drug trafficking is no big deal.
Bolek says that the new anti-bail measures - which are slated to take effect on January 1, 2020 - are short-sighted at best and are bound to do more harm than good. He claims that if implemented as they are they will put public safety at risk and interfere with the ability of his office to prosecute cases. For those reasons and more he, along with many other legislators and law enforcement officials, want to see changes before the first of the year arrives.
At a time when legislatures and ordinary citizens nationwide are pushing back against the travesty that is the modern bail reform movement, Governor Cuomo has embraced it as a way to score some cheap political points with his base. But whereas a few years ago the Governor’s actions may have been largely overlooked that’s no longer the case. The growing amount of evidence that catch-and-release programs don’t work has put his signature on this legislation under the spotlight.
But it’s not just Governor Cuomo who finds himself on the defensive with regards to bail reform. The non-profit Arnold Foundation that has been the driving force behind anti-bail movements nationwide - including right here in Jefferson County, Arapahoe County and Denver County - has also found the seat they’re sitting on lately to be very hot indeed.
So hot in fact that they’ve begun to distance themselves from their own widely adopted “risk assessment algorithm”. In case you’re not familiar with that it’s a computer program the foundation developed in secret that decides whether someone is released pending their court appearance or held over. Many states have adopted it. But every state that has seen an increase in repeat offenders and skyrocketing numbers of defendants who don’t show up in court. Which makes sense because there’s no longer any monetary incentive for them to do so.
In the face of growing opposition the Arnold Foundation has decided that bail reform isn’t as important to them as they previously let on. They’ve also tacitly admitted that their pet project - their proprietary risk assessment algorithm - doesn’t really work all that well. And, in what many members of the anti-bail cabal see as a flat-out betrayal, they also quietly announced they are abandoning their non-profit status and becoming a for-profit enterprise henceforth to be known as “Arnold Ventures”.
This, they claim, will enable them to strengthen their commitment to their dystopian dream of a bail-free America, where all criminals can walk the streets unencumbered by the fear of jail. Many however, see this as the first step in a pivot away from a controversial issue. And with Arnold withdrawing from the fight it will be increasingly difficult for so-called “reformers” to continue justifying their nonsensical anti-bail bonding positions.
The news that the Arnold Foundation is quietly scaling back their anti-bail crusade should be music to the ears of all citizens. But there’s another reform related disaster all queued up waiting to be unleashed. And that is this: if nothing changes roughly one third of the inmates at the Orange County jail, as well as countless others being held statewide on a variety of charges, are set to be released on January 1st when New York’s new bail rules take effect.
That includes people accused of vehicular homicide, criminally negligent homicide, 2nd degree manslaughter, major narcotics offenses and more. Of course, in the tightly guarded environment in which the Governor operates this shouldn’t be a problem. For all the rest of you ordinary citizens however, well, the governor thinks you just worry too much.