And the hits just keep on coming.
Among those who under a new state law have been released without bail after being accused of violent assaults have been Nathan Panchoo, cut loose Jan. 2 despite having punched a woman in the face and beaten her with a stick while robbing her of $220, and Frantz Fortune, another undeserving beneficiary who was accused of twice beating and choking his girlfriend.
The only swing of the pendulum in the other direction amid a series of outrageous releases made possible under the “reform” was the holding of Tiffany Harris after she completed a three-bagger of assaultive behavior.
Six days earlier, Ms. Harris allegedly slapped three Orthodox Jewish women in Crown Heights, later acknowledging that she shouted “F.U. Jews!” while doing it. She was released the following day as the criminal-justice system moved to offer some early-bird specials on the reform policy, and allegedly decided to make up for lost time in custody by punching another woman without provocation as the victim’s children looked on in shock.
It wasn’t until Ms. Harris pinched a social worker she was required to report to on New Year’s Eve that she was finally held for psychiatric evaluation the following day. At that point, a prosecutor for the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office was moved to declare, “She is a danger, in our opinion, to herself and others.”
A lawyer for Ms. Harris insisted her client was mentally sound. Maybe in the anything-goes atmosphere that has overtaken the city and neighboring areas, the woman’s conduct qualifies as sane and rational. But whether she’s considered emotionally disturbed or just a violent bigot, how can the justice system make a case that she should be on the streets, free to further assault and frighten people?
The new law permits the release of those arrested for misdemeanors or nonviolent felonies, with bail imposed only if someone inflicts serious injury. But victims shouldn’t have to die or require hospitalization before the system reacts to get their assailants off the streets.
Among the travesties of justice was an unprovoked sucker punch landed on a cop by a homeless man. He, too, was let go. Much more of this and we can rename the bail-reform law “No concussion, no foul.”
Things have gotten so bad that Mayor de Blasio felt moved to decry the free-for-all that had been created on city streets by the new policy and its interpretation. Governor Cuomo also spoke out while visiting several Orthodox Jewish communities—including the one in the Rockland County Village of Monsey where the most-serious violence was committed by a schizophrenic man—to assure residents that strong action would be taken against those who commit hate crimes.
But D.J. Jaffe, executive director of Mental Illness Policy Org, stated in a Daily News op-ed that neither official had clean hands when it came to dealing with the violent mentally ill. He wrote “it’s Cuomo who bears the brunt of the blame for the state’s failed mental-health policies. He continues to close psychiatric hospitals, refuses to take the lead in amending New York’s involuntary commitment standard, and, like Mayor de Blasio, is surrounded by people who refuse to focus mental-health services on delivering treatment to the most seriously mentally ill.”
State legislators, who failed to weigh the risks of their bail-reform change, should quickly amend it to allow judges to consider an assailant’s “dangerousness,” as is done in many other jurisdictions, before releasing that person. In cases of unprovoked attacks, whether on strangers or those with whom they are acquainted, there should also be consideration given to holding the offenders, whether in jail or to receive a psychiatric evaluation.
Without such changes, if the opening few days of bail “reform” are any indication, some of its proponents should have their heads examined.
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