The other side of bail reform: Brooklyn Republicans and Conservatives contend new policy is dangerous failure

BAY RIDGE — After a young woman was choked and nearly raped inside a bathroom at the 95th Street subway station in Bay Ridge on Monday, Jan. 27, Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis was the only local lawmaker to attribute the incident to the implementation of the new state bail reform law.

She blamed the incident and the uptick in crime over the past month on the notion that suspects who previously had been held in jail because they could not meet bail are now, under a law that took effect on Jan. 1, being released without bail and are free to continue committing crimes.

Calling bail reform “a get-out-of-jail-free card,” Malliotakis, the only Republican to represent the borough of Brooklyn, contended that bail reform “puts all New Yorkers at risk” during a press conference outside the station on Thursday, Feb. 6, where she was joined by New York State Conservative Party Chair Jerry Kassar and Dyker Heights Civic Chair Fran Vella-Marrone, as well as community leaders, residents and members of the law enforcement community who voiced their concerns about what they believe to be a failed bail policy.

In addition, almost every law enforcement union was represented including the NYPD Police Benevolent Association, State Court Officers Association and New York State Supreme Court Officers Association.

“What happened at this subway station is just one more alarming example of why New York’s bail reform law needs to be scrapped; it returns dangerous criminals to the street by deconstructing the laws that protect law-abiding citizens,” Malliotakis said.

Cops picked up 20-year-old Arjun Tyler on Friday, Jan. 31, and initially said that Tyler, who had previously been arrested for a string of robberies, but had been released from jail and let back out on the street, had been charged with rape and assault in connection with the incident, with the rape charge modified later to attempted rape. However, so far, the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office has only charged Tyler with larceny and possession of stolen property in connection with other incidents.

ebrooklyn media/Photos by John Alexander
Community leaders including attorney Michael Tannousis, Brooklyn Conservative Party Chair Fran Vella-Marrone and New York State Conservative Party Chair Jerry Kassar at bail reform press conference.

“This attack didn’t need to happen,” said Malliotakis. “It’s the result of a misguided and poorly-named piece of legislation that was passed on April 1 in the middle of the night, without public airing, testimony or debate, as part of the state budget. It was among hundreds and hundreds of pages of budget bills and I can guarantee that not one legislator who voted for it actually read it.”

Malliotakis also pointed out that since the law took effect, grand larcenies, robberies, burglaries and felony assaults have all increased in New York City. “Auto thefts have skyrocketed 70 percent. There are 40 percent more victims of shootings, and transit crimes have seen a citywide increase of 34 percent. Here in southern Brooklyn, transit crimes have increased by a shocking 52 percent. This is not fear-mongering. This is not an exaggeration. Those are the facts,” she added.

Vella-Marrone, who had joined Malliotakis a few months back at a press conference outside the 68th Precinct discussing the issue, said it was important to address the matter of public safety.

“It was my honor to join with Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis and our brave men and women in law enforcement in stating in a clear and loud voice that the new bail law has put our communities in danger,” she told this paper.  “The state legislature needs to take responsibility and repeal this ill-conceived legislation.”

With the rise in reported crimes since the new bail laws took effect, Mayor Bill de Blasio is among those calling for the new law to be amended, putting him at odds with the more progressive members of his party, including Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who defends the bail reform and criticized de Blasio.

“It’s not a good look,” Williams said in an interview with Politico. “It seems whenever we try to make a real progressive step forward, if it gets a little hot, there seems to be an immediate retreat, and that’s very concerning.”

Proponents of the new bail law say that it eliminates pretrial detention and cash bail in the majority of arrests, which saw poor defendants languishing in jail while richer ones were freed, while judges retain the option of setting cash bail in the remaining cases.

State Sen. Andrew Gounardes explained that the judge could have remanded Tyler to jail but chose not to.

“There’s absolutely no connection between these neighborhood incidents and bail reform,”  Gounardes told this paper.

“Our old system of guilty-unless-you-can-pay was clearly broken, but we have to ensure our communities are safe,” Gounardes went on. “I support multiple amendments to the law, including making hate crimes a category where bail can be set, allowing judges to order a mental health evaluation as a condition of release and expanded electronic monitoring.”

Malliotakis said that she was in favor of speeding up the bail process but not at the expense of letting more serious offenders back out on the street.

“Some of these individuals have multiple convictions and lengthy, lengthy rap sheets. Crimes like strangulation, assault, aggravated assault of a child, multiple hate crimes, criminally negligent homicide, vehicular manslaughter — these are violent crimes, so when the Democrats tell you that we’re only talking about low-level offenses here and non-violent crimes, they are lying,” she asserted.

Kassar concurred with Malliotakis. “The Democrats in the legislature were warned last year that these changes in the bail law represented a threat to public safety,” Kassar told this paper. “Sadly, this has come true with crimes committed and dangerous criminals released back onto the streets. The legislature must act now to repeal these changes. Our safety and the safety of our families is at stake,” he added.

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