It is never a good idea when the tail wags the dog, but this seems to be the case in Albany, New York State’s capital.
At issue is the recent criminal justice reforms.
Activists and interest groups have long worked to have the state legislature take into consideration some key factors they believe are antithetical to the fair and equitable dispensation of Justice.
Those issues they believe end up affecting the poorest people and people of color being incarcerated because of their color and financial status.
Beginning January 1st, cash bail will be eliminated for hundreds of offenses, and new discovery and trial laws will also go into effect. The criminal justice reforms were passed as part of the state budget earlier this year. [wamc]
But despite the hard work of the people who recognize that these changes were needed, there are many Republicans at the state level, prosecutors and law enforcement who believe that the recently passed measures should be watered down to levels police want then to be.
It is the duty of the Legislature to consider the issues and make laws, and where necessary make changes to laws that are onerous, or not working in the interest of the citizens of the state.
In that process, legislators have a duty to consider all of the data available and to listen to everyone including police, and prosecutors who are the professionals on the front lines of enforcing the laws.
On the other hand, many prosecutors and police have been far less professional than they ought to be. As a consequence, citizens least able to defend themselves have become victims of the system administered by prosecutors and police.
Additionally, cities, and municipalities across the state have been forced to fork over hundreds of millions of dollars each year to pay for police abuse.
Tens of thousands of people have their lives destroyed because of dirty police officers who arbitrarily and callously frame the innocent who are then thrown in jail, and as a result of their state of impoverishment are unable to secure bail.
As a result of the indifference and complicity of police and prosecutors, many innocent people have spent inordinate amounts of time locked up in jail for minor infractions.
No case has been more heart wrenching than the case of 19-year-old Kalief Browder.
Kalief Browder, a 16-year-old, was thrown in the Rikers Jail by NYPD cops, allegedly for stealing a backpack. Browder killed himself after spending three years in jail but never saw the inside of a courtroom. The estate of the young man was given $3.3 million of the city’s tax dollars. No amount of money can bring Kalief Browder back.
According to the New York Daily News, New York City taxpayers spent a whopping $230 million to pay off 6,472 lawsuits settled against the NYPD in the last fiscal year, according to an annual report released by Comptroller Scott Stringer’s office.
That is only for New York City alone. Nevertheless, the cost in human suffering is incalculable.
The group against the reform includes Republican legislators,(big surprise there), prosecutors and cops. This is where I believe the line ought to be drawn. Police are supposed to enforce the laws not dictate what they are.
According to [wamc] some lawmakers, police chiefs, and other law enforcement personnel have been asking New York to delay the implementation, and for the legislature to reconvene to change the reforms they say are dangerous.
The state should allow the changes to go through and not allow police and prosecutors to further take away the rights of the poorest citizens.
It is up to the legislature to correct these injustices brought on the innocent, by the very people pretending to care about the public.
This practice of police and prosecutors dictating the rules as it relates to what is inside the laws have made the country a veritable police state.
As of 2019, the United States is 4.27% of the world’s population, yet it has the dubious distinction of having 25% of the world’s prison population.
That is what happens when the police is allowed to dictate the laws rather than enforce them.
Mike Beckles is a former Jamaican police Detective corporal, a business owner, avid researcher, and blogger.
He is a black achiever honoree, and publisher of the blog chatt-a-box.com.
He’s also a contributor to several websites.
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