Crime is not good, but it can pay, and for a criminal, the question is whether or not he can pay himself without having to pay justice to the law. A new law in New York State has just provided a relief for criminals where according to the document, many crimes now make people eligible for immediate bail for hundreds of offenses.
New York’s bail reform law eliminates pretrial detention and cash bail for the vast majority of misdemeanor and non-violent felony cases. Hundreds of offenses such as stalking, grand larceny, assault as a hate crime, and second degree manslaughter will no longer be eligible for bail or pretrial detention.
“They eliminated bail but they never put in the safeguard we need of allowing a judge to assess dangerousness and the result is we’ve got some glaring loopholes that will go into effect,” Mark Peters warned.
CBS2’s Urban Affairs Expert says this sets New York apart from other states, such as New Jersey, which have also eliminated cash bail.
“So someone can walk up to someone on the street punch them in the face and if they haven’t done lasting physical injury there’s no bail available… they’ll be let out that day they can go punch someone the next day,” Peters added.
“It’s concerning. We’re going to have to work harder than ever with our partners, with our fellow district attorneys, to prosecute these crimes to make sure that we are on top of our game,” new NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea told CBS2 in December.
“When you have individuals that are standing before a judge and immediately being released, and essentially everyone in the room knows that this person is a danger to the community, I think we need to look at the system and make sure that judges can make common sense decisions.” Shea explained.
Cuomo estimates the new law will keep about 90 percent of defendants out of jail at least until their case gets resolved.
These offenders will also have the added bonus of a new incentive program in New York City — which will give released suspects things like New York Mets tickets and gift cards for showing up to court.
“It’s not as though there’s a light switch and suddenly New York City is gonna become vastly more dangerous Jan. 1 than it was Dec. 31. These are things we’ll see the effects of over the next several months,” Peters told CBS2’s Ali Bauman. (source)
It is going to be highly interesting to see how this law affects crime in New York.
Taken as a law in itself, it is actually a good thing, because a criminal trial can significantly hurt a person in terms of their ability to provide for themselves since when one is arrested, one cannot go to work, and if one cannot go to work and the employer finds out that one is in jail, one is almost immediately terminated from work without question. The “at-will” nature of employment in the US provides no protection to workers, and so even telling one’s employer that one has a trial is often a dangerous thing to do. This would, and hopefully, will allow people of good will in a difficult situation to help keep their lives in order and to prevent some of the disorder that comes from a legal case from arising more than what it will.
However, there is one assumption to this, which is that people will return for their trial and to go through the court process, which the reality is, a lot of people are not going to do. In fact, once people know what the crimes are that they can receive “automatic bail” for, they may attempt to commit said crimes intentionally as much as possible up until their trial date, as they know that assuming they will return to jail, they might as well enjoy doing whatever they can do before being forced to return to jail.
There will also be people who will commit as many crimes as possible, and then skip out all together. Likewise, people may attempt to give false information to the police, and knowing they cannot be arrested, will just run to another area and continue to commit crimes.
Those who do go through the trial system- the honest people who made a real mistake -may end up being forced to bear the wrath of the system against them because it is possible that whatever crime they are being accused of, they will receive a harder punishment in order to “set an example” for offenders, with the hope that those who commit such crimes will see it an be deterred by it. This does not make logical sense at all, but this is a common pattern used in many countries, including the US, where those with short to no criminal records have the proverbial “book thrown at them” while those with long criminal histories, especially for things of a deranged or violent nature, are released back into society with few to no punishments and then, not suspectingly, do the very things that people were concerned they might do. Meanwhile, the man of good intentions has his life wrecked to shambles over something that would normally for most people, and certainly for the previously-mentioned criminal, would have little effect on him.
The American justice system has many issues, and is in desperate need of reform. Hopefully, these reforms will have a positive effect, but that is conditional upon a social cohesion that recognizes that crimes are not good, that balance is needed, and that even among criminals, that they cannot continually violate the social order. While all law is necessary in a world affected by sin, it generally tends to vary based on the people. Given how American society has been “cracking” at her seams for a long time as with the decline in religion and a sense of a greater purpose, there has been needed continually greater applications of force to keep society together, the tendency is that laws such as this, even if many who support them do so out of good intentions, they tend to promote tension in society between political factions and can be used to promote more polarization and disorder.
Hopefully this brings about positive changes, but it seems that it may create the conditions for, as one might call it, a criminal’s “dream state”, where crime is easy to commit and in some ways, protected by law against actions taken by victims or would-be victims to help themselves.