Crime has soared. Restoring safe streets and subways will take more than Albany tweaking bail. It will take major change. My congressional opponent, supporting progressives soft on crime, won’t act to restore safety. We need sensible policing that respects civil rights, handles crime, and requires judges to set bail that won’t release dangerous people. We also face the tragic crisis of increased mass shootings. Please study my proposals addressing these and many other criminal justice problems.
Smart Bail Reform. Unlike my unapologetic opponent and progressivesrefusing to admit error, I offer a balanced plan that both protects our streets and the rights of those arrested, rich and poor. Anyone arrested with a long rap sheet of serious felonies should not be released. Anyone with minimal or no rap sheet charged with a minor non-violent misdemeanor (for example, shoplifting $30 of shirts) by law must be tried (or plea bargained) within two weeks or be released ROR or with affordable bail pending
Mass Shootings. Mass shootings increased proportionately with the growth of websites spewing racism and violence. Mental illness, especially among 18 to 22-year-olds, typifies shooting criminals. While gun bans sound like a solution, this is not the reality. Deranged people will find weapons no matter what we ban. Our country has always had guns. Why do we now have so many shootings? What changed is poisonous websites thatdid not exist in the pre-Internet age. A crucial step is to locate dangerously mentally ill people, treat them, and stop them before they get their hands on guns. It will take a communal effort between government, social media companies and local police trained to seek out and arrest those threatening violence online. It will require shutting down horrible websites spreading hate, for deranged people flock to those websites.
Gun Bans. Evidence is unclear whether the 10-year semi automatic gun ban in the 1990s had much effect. Well intentioned Democrats face the sad reality that there is not enough support in Congress to enact strict bans. We need to be realistic. Getting enough Republican votes means focusing on mental health and dangerous internet websites (as noted above). That is more likely to enact and more likely to decrease mass shootings. I sympathize with those disappointed by a lack of gun bans, but let's do what's possible.
Speedy Trial. We as a civilized society need reforms because we often deny the accused a speedy trial in violation of 6th and 14th amendment rights. The poor deserve the same access to legal representation as the rich get. The constitution matters whether one is rich or poor. How long must the poor wait for trial while incarcerated? It's a valid question we all must consider.
Poor District Attorney Choices. The New York district attorney’s decision to ease prosecutions is yet another step in the wrong direction. It must be corrected.No one with dangerous tendencies should be released without appropriate scrutiny by judges, police and the DA’s office.
Shoplifting. It’s a plague. Stores are looted yet shoplifters are not arrested - walk in, take what you want, leave. Police and security seem helpless. Many stores like Rite Aid closed up - it’s gotten that bad. The civil rights movement never intended for this. I’ll oppose ideologues who created ill-conceived bail reforms handing criminals “get out of jail free” cards. Those remorseless politicians admit no wrong. They even ignore our mayor. Vote them out of power if they don’t correct the mess they created.
Demoralized Police. Respect for police is an important priority. Police run into gunfire and harm’s way to protect us. An officer’s murder is a tragedy we all should feel deeply. Police must follow 4th Amendment rights but also not be handcuffed in keeping streets safe and arresting criminals. Police were demoralized by defunding and bail reform, losing incentive to arrest criminals because lax judges quickly release them. Progressives needlessly gutted bail requirements, causing a surge in crime. Recent legislation restoring some bail discretion to judges will make little difference. We need tougher bail requirements. I present below a comprehensive plan that properly balances justice, civil rights and crime.
Body Cameras. We want body cameras not only for law enforcement officers but also in all police vehicles including the backs of paddy wagons. This will be a mandatory law for all local and state law enforcement.
Community Service. First-time nonviolent offenders, instead of getting jail time, will do mandatory community service during parole sentences. Examples include serving food at senior centers or homeless shelters, picking up garbage in parks and subways, and helping repair NYCHA housing. This community service will be eight hours a day six days a week. If they are in school or have jobs, they will serve two hours a day after school or work and 12 hours on weekends or days off. Once parole is completed, the criminal record will be sealed.
Proper Judicial Review. Judges, when determining sentencing, must review a defendant’s full criminal history, including sealed juvenile or work parole records, to formulate informed decisions. Once a criminal is convicted or pleads guilty, there should be no problem with a judge reviewing records to get a better picture of the defendant’s character.
White Collar Crimes. Prison terms for white-collar crimes such as identity theft and cybercrime must be increased. Cybercrime increases at an alarming rate and costs our economy billions of dollars in disrupting and destroying people’s lives. These crimes are often worse and more costly than muggings.
Speedy Trial. A defendant has the right to a speedy trial. It is unconscionable that a defendant must sit in jail for months or years before the case goes to trial. We need reasonable statutory limitations on continuances by both the prosecution and the defense when a defendant is incarcerated. If the defendant is incarcerated, we also need a statutory time limit before trial. If the time limit is reached, charges will be dropped and will not be able to be used without new evidence. To speed up prosecution of trials we must hire more Asst. District Attorneys as needed.
Investigations. We have to set up an independent panel under the State Attorney General Office, but not one controlled by them. This panel will have the power to investigate any DA’s Office. It also will be given the power to decide if a special prosecutor has to be appointed for a controversial case. This will take politics and emotion out of inflammatory cases.
Diverse Investigators. We have to modify judicial review panels. Sometimes judges go too far in decisions or run courtrooms like a personal fiefdom. That’s why I want to add non-legal people to review panels. They will team up with retired judges, lawyers and law professors.
Civics Education. I propose mandating civics classes in all high schools to teach students both 4th Amendment rights and the need to respect police, who must balance civil rights alongside the need to combat crime. All people must let police do their work and not take steps that policemen view as threats to their lives. We must recognize that police are also human beings with families and children. They also have a right to protect themselves, for anyone in their presence should recognize the need to take no threatening steps interfering with police work.
Teenager Crime. Let’s not be naïve. Some teenagers belong to gangs and have guns. They do bad things. Police face gangs and people must recognize such sad realities. Let’s not forget this: more policemen than unarmed civilians are killed in the line of duty.
Smarter Leadership. Too many elected officials are ambulance-chasers. When a problem known about for years becomes a headline, they want a quick fix. Most politicians treat the symptom, not the disease. A prime example is the City Council and Mayor’s proposal to pay the bills for some defendants instead of looking at the big picture of why someone sits in jail for years for a minor crime.
After School Prograns. Crime must be fought on many levels. We need more after-school programs and youth centers to give young people somewhere to go and activities to do. Youth centers benefit us all.
We need a criminal justice system we can trust. We must begin somewhere for healing to start. Law enforcement, DA’s and judges perform a vital function and we must respect those who perform their duties with honesty and care. But the criminal justice system must respect our rights and freedoms, too. We must make it work for all.