NYC prosecutor slams Albany lawmaker for ‘band-aid’ tweak to bail reform
State lawmakers’ recent change to controversial criminal justice reforms is nothing more than “a band-aid on a gash,” Staten Island’s chief attorney said Sunday.
Richmond County District Attorney Michael McMahon said the move in Albany last week to give judges more power to bail criminal cases will not be enough to tackle rampant crime in the Big Apple.
“We’re definitely glad they did something. But we fear this is a band-aid on a gash because we still have charges that do not qualify for bail,” McMahon told host John Catsimatidis on WABC770 AM’s Cats Roundtable.
“So the commercial burglar that’s really terrorizing New York City right now, or the drug dealer, or the person that has a history of guns, a history of violence, a history of violating protective orders, they’re still not going to be eligible for bail.” McMahon drove away.
“So, it’s an incremental change, but it’s clearly not enough because we see that Albany’s changes in recent years to the laws — bail reform, ‘raise the age’, discovery — have deprived the criminal justice system of accountability, and we’ll see what happens,” McMahon said. “Crime is on the rise.”
The hard crimes prosecutor was speaking just days after Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the state’s new budget package includes changes to the bail reform law that barred judges from setting bail for most crimes and required them to do “the least.” restrictive” to be considered. Conditions for cases where a deposit is eligible.
The $229 billion spending package removes the “least restrictive” clause in the law. However, judges are still barred from setting bail in most cases.
The plan also leaves rigid deadlines for prosecutors to provide “discoveries” — or evidence for defense attorneys — as well as the Age Increasing Act, which raised the age for defendants to be treated as adults to 18.
“We are committed to keeping the people of Staten Island safe,” McMahon said. “But it’s difficult when we arrest someone and give them a desk appearance – a summons to come back in 20 days – and they’re back on the street, even though they may have committed a low-level assault.
“We need to raise our voice to our lawmakers and say, ‘You guys made this mess.'”
Catsimatidis also spoke on Sunday about crime with former Gov. David Paterson – who criticized lawmakers in the Five Counties for calling the NYPD over their potentially costly overtime hours.
“The City Council singled out overtime at the police department as something they wanted to cut,” Paterson told the host. “[Mayor] Eric Adams said, “With the crime we’re facing right now, how can you want to cut police overtime unless you’re against the police?”
“He said, ‘I’m for the police and I’m not going to let that happen.'”
When asked how many members of the 51-member New York City Council were “common sense” lawmakers, Paterson said he could only think of six.
“I think there are a lot of city council members who have common sense, but I think they don’t appreciate the public’s point of view,” the Democrat said.
“You know, when people first apply for office, they want to meet people who want to hear what they have to say,” Paterson continued. “They stay there for some time – and it doesn’t have to be long – they have this behavior that I call ‘we know better.’
“‘Yes, the public says it’s a crime, but that’s an exaggeration. It’s actually a perception. We actually know better.” Whether it’s a perception or not, if it bothers people, you as an official have to respond,” he said. “You can’t answer by saying people have misunderstandings. That it’s a perception. Perceptions become reality.”
The former governor didn’t name the six lawmakers he believed to be “common sense.”
Paterson noted that all council seats are up for re-election in November.