Wag-the ‑dog Strategy By Police In An Attempt To Roll Back NYS Criminal Justice Reforms…


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.

Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple surrounded by law enforcement officials from across New York
Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple sur­round­ed by law enforce­ment offi­cials from across New York

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 them 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 or inabil­i­ty unable to pay for 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.

Image: Flowers rest on top of pictures of Browder in New York
Flowers and pic­tures of Kalief Browder, in New York, on June 11, 2015. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed to push reforms at the city’s trou­bled Rikers Island prison com­plex after Browder, 22, killed him­self. He had been held at Rikers for three years with­out being con­vict­ed of a crime.

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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