An officer’s murder at the hands of a criminal is a tragedy that all New Yorkers should feel deeply. All lives matter, especially the blue who protect us. Crime must be fought on many levels. A better education system prepares our kids for the real world. This can be emphasized in schools. In addition, we need more after-school programs and youth centers to give young people somewhere to go and activities to do. Youth centers should not be in only poor neighborhoods.
Faith in the criminal justice system is in decay and has to be restored. When a huge sector of a population does not trust their criminal justice system, it heads towards catastrophe. Without trust in our criminal justice system, we are all in danger. We need police, district attorneys, and courts to protect us from those who would want to exploit our society, as we commonly see in third-world nations. However we cannot have the criminal justice establishment break rules be it for expedience, for racism, or just because they can. They must follow established rules that protect the innocent. On occasion we must suffer the consequences of letting a criminal go free because it is better than sending an innocent man to jail. That is why I propose these reforms to return trust to our criminal justice system.
- 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 New York State local and state law enforcement departments.
- First-time nonviolent offenders, instead of getting jail time, will have to do mandatory community service during parole sentences. Examples include serving food at senior centers or homeless shelters, picking up garbage at parks and playgrounds and the MTA, and helping make repairs at 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 the parole is completed, the criminal record will be sealed.
- Judges, when determining sentencing, have to review a defendant’s full criminal history including sealed juvenile or work parole records to formulate an informed decision. Once a criminal is convicted or pleads guilty, there should be no problem with a judge’s reviewing records to get a better picture of the defendant’s character.
- Prison terms for white-collar crimes such as identity theft and cybercrime must be substantially increased. Cybercrimes are increasing at an alarming rate and cost our economy billions of dollars in disrupting and destroying individual people’s lives. These types of crimes are often much worse and much more costly than muggings.
- A defendant has the right to a speedy trial. It is unconscionable that a defendant must sit in jail for 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.
- 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 District Attorney’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.
- We have to modify judicial review panels. Sometimes judges go too far in their decisions or run their courtrooms like their own personal fiefdom. That’s why I want to add non-legal people to review panels. They will team with retired judges, lawyers, and law professors.
- I propose mandating civics classes in all high schools to teach students both 4th-Amendment rights and the need to show respect to police, who must constantly balance civil rights alongside the need to combat criminals who endanger our communities. All people must recognize that they too have obligations to let police do their work and not take steps that policemen view as threats to their lives. We must all recognize that police are also human beings with loving families and children. They also have a right to protect themselves, and anyone in their presence should recognize the need to take no threatening steps to interfere with police work.
- We must all be realistic. Some young teenagers belong to gangs and have guns. Let’s not be naïve. Young people do bad things. Police face young gangs, and all people must recognize such sad realities. Let’s not forget this fact: many more policemen than unarmed civilians are killed in the line of duty.
Too many elected officials are ambulance-chasers. When a problem known about for years becomes a headline, they want to come up with 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. For our country to not break down into anarchy, we need a criminal justice system we can trust. We must begin somewhere for the 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, just as we respect those performing vital functions. Without mutual respect it won’t work. We must make it work for all. This is the only way we can thrive in our communities.