I will work to repair disastrous choices made by Albany ideologues (and by my opponent) like the flawed bail reform, which allowed hundreds of dangerous people to return to the streets. It is one thing to address low level acts and needless incarceration, but reform should not mean releasing hard-core felons with a rap sheet of priors.
My highest priority upon taking office in Albany will be reversing recent bail reforms and replacing them with smart revisions that won’t re-populate our streets with dangerous people arrested for good reason. No one with dangerous tendencies should be released without appropriate scrutiny by judges, police and the DA’s office.
We need people with different viewpoints and common sense. The current reform law was poorly conceived yet passed by overwhelming majority. We need leaders who are more concerned about law abiding people than violent criminals, and have the wisdom to know and fight horrific legislation.
Respect for police is another important priority. Police run into gunfire and harm’s way to protect us. We should not degrade these patriotic people. An officer’s murder is a tragedy all New Yorkers should feel deeply. All lives matter, especially the blue.
Crime must be fought on many levels and emphasized in schools. We need more after-school programs and youth centers to give young people somewhere to go and activities to do. Youth centers benefit us all. Faith in the criminal justice system is in decay and it has to be restored. When a huge sector of a population does not trust their criminal justice system, it heads towards catastrophe.
We need police, district attorneys, and courts to protect us from those who exploit society, as commonly seen in third-world nations. However we cannot have the criminal justice establishment break rules for expedience or racism. Police must follow 4th Amendment rights. Civil rights matter! 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 the following reforms to return trust to our criminal justice system.
- Body Cameras. We want body cameras not only for law enforcement officers but also in all police vehicles including the backsof paddy wagons. This will be a mandatory law for all local and state law enforcement.
- Community Service. First-time nonviolent offenders, instead of getting jail time, will do mandatory community service during parole sentences. Examples include serving food at senior centers or homeless shelters, picking up garbage in parks and subways, and helping repair 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 parole is completed, the criminal record will be sealed.
- Proper Judicial Review. Judges, when determining sentencing, must review a defendant’s full criminal history, including sealed juvenile or work parole records, to formulate informed decisions. Once a criminal is convicted or pleads guilty, there should be no problem with a judge reviewing records to get a better picture of the defendant’s character.
- White Collar Crimes. Prison terms for white-collar crimes such as identity theft and cybercrime must be increased. Cybercrime increases at an alarming rate and costs our economy billions of dollars in disrupting and destroying people’s lives. These crimes are often worse and more costly than muggings.
- Speedy Trial. A defendant has the right to a speedy trial. It is unconscionable that a defendant must sit in jail for months or 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. To speed up prosecution of trials we must hire more Asst. District Attorneys as needed.
- Investigations. 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 DA’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.
- Diverse Investigators. We have to modify judicial review panels. Sometimes judges go too far in decisions or run courtrooms like a personal fiefdom. That’s why I want to add non-legal people to review panels. They will team up with retired judges, lawyers and law professors.
- Civics Education. I propose mandating civics classes in all high schools to teach students both 4th Amendment rights and the need to respect police, who must balance civil rights alongside the need to combat crime. All people must let police do their work and not take steps that policemen view as threats to their lives. We must recognize that police are also human beings with families and children. They also have a right to protect themselves, for anyone in their presence should recognize the need to take no threatening steps interfering with police work.
- Teenager Crime. Let’s not be naïve. Some teenagers belong to gangs and have guns. They do bad things. Police face gangs and people must recognize such sad realities. Let’s not forget this: more policemen than unarmed civilians are killed in the line of duty.
- Smarter Leadership. Too many elected officials are ambulance-chasers. When a problem known about for years becomes a headline, they want 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.
We need a criminal justice system we can trust. We must begin somewhere for 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. 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.