Statement by PROP Director, Robert Gangi, issued October 26, 2015.
Despite the widespread praise greeting them, Mayor de Blasio’s reform proposals — to change state laws to enable judges to consider public safety risk when setting bail or deciding whether to divert a defendant to treatment — are more empty posturing than an appropriate response to a tragic incident. They represent political grandstanding that pretends to be smart and tough when it, in fact, addresses a non-issue. Despite provisions of state law, judges in NYC already consider danger to the community when making those decisions. Through our Court Monitoring Project, PROP volunteers have observed thousands of cases in the city’s arraignment courts and we see judges make those calculations on a regular basis.
Instead of focusing just on the court’s decision-making process, Mr. de Blasio could have exercised thoughtful and effective leadership by calling attention to other government and criminal justice agencies that apparently failed in this case:
- The NYPD’s warrant squad which failed to apprehend the alleged shooter during more than a month of searching.
- The prison that confined him for an extended period and returned him to the community perhaps even more violence-prone than when he entered.
- The child care system — the man had a brutal childhood including two drug-addicted parents, the early death of a parent and a sister in a fire, the placement of all six of his siblings in foster care, and years locked up in a juvenile jail.
By proposing only meaningless “get tough” measures, the Mayor did a disservice to the growing public debate on these issues and showed again that when it comes to criminal justice matters, he is not the true progressive that he claims.