From NY Post: Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday defended his plan to triple the number of teens who are freed from city jails without bail on violent charges including armed robbery and assault.
“We’re ensuring there are real alternatives to incarceration particularly for our young New Yorkers,” the mayor said at an unrelated press conference, responding to a question about The Post’s front page story revealing the no-bail expansion.
“We need to focus on getting them on the right track. We need to support them. We need to make sure they’re being redeemed — not just locked up,” he said.
New guidelines from the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice will also increase the number of adults who qualify for de Blasio’s no-bail Supervised Release Program by boosting the eligibility age from 17 to 19. The program will be broadened to include first- and second-degree robbery, assault and burglary. The changes go into effect on Saturday.
Hizzoner tried to downplay the inclusion of the more serious charges claiming, “We’re talking about folks who have done offenses, lesser offenses.”
He said accused subway saboteur Isaiah Thompson, 23, who is suspected of causing nearly 1,000 train delays by pulling the e-brake and other stunts, is a “different kind of case.”
“I don’t think we should make our laws and rules based on the real exception cases,” he said.
Thompson’s been arrested 17 times since 2017, according to police, yet remained free to pull the pranks until he was arraigned earlier this month and held on $5,000 cash bail.
The mayor said his reforms are not at odds with a recent opinion piece by his police commissioner James O’Neill who wrote that state law doesn’t allow judges to consider the “dangerousness” of a defendant when determining whether to set bail. “That’s something Albany still should do. I agree with the police commissioner on that– that needs to be done,’ he said.
The mayor also dismissed concerns that judges, who are supposed to have discretion for granting entry to the Supervised Release Program, will feel pressure to follow the guidelines to save their jobs. “Oh no, no — judges are going to make their own decisions. We’re providing them an option they’re going to decide what makes sense,” de Blasio pledged.
The Mayor’s Advisory Committee on the Judiciary reviews and recommends candidates for the bench.