Hochul failed to get NY needed criminal-justice fixes

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Facing a legislative leadership that flat-out refused to make any of the vital fixes to New York’s insane criminal-justice reforms, Gov. Kathy Hochul belatedly opted to ask for some small changes as her price for agreeing to a bloated state budget. She wound up getting some tiny ones and calling that a victory.

It’s a huge loss for average New Yorkers, especially the (overwhelmingly minority) victims of crime.

Every other state, even those that have eliminated bail, at least lets judges send clearly dangerous suspects to jail. Not New York, still.

Yes, Hochul got a few more gun charges made bail-or-jail eligible. But they’re not crimes for which many people get arrested in the first place. And judges will be able to jail serial shoplifters (for which retailers will be very grateful), but not chronic offenders of nearly any other crime.

Hate criminals will now risk jail, too, but that’s another small category of arrestees.

The changes to the discovery rules are minimal, and nowhere near enough to reduce the insane paperwork burden that forces prosecutors across the state to drop cases (and has DA offices hemorrhaging staff). The state DAs want $200 million a year to handle this added makework; the budget tosses them about $50 million (out of billions in new spending).

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul talks about the state budget in the Red Room at the state Capitol.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul talks about the state budget in the Red Room at the state Capitol on April 7.
Hans Pennink

In short, the Legislature made a few tiny concessions, and now will refuse to do anything more unless the voters revolt.

Hochul had a weak hand: She’s an “accidental governor” facing lefty-dominated supermajorities in both chambers of the Legislature. So she opted for an inside game, even publicly endorsing the absurd claim that the “reforms” of recent years have nothing to do with New York’s soaring crime, because she didn’t want to upset her lunatic “negotiating partners.”

It’s plain the state won’t get the changes it needs — ones the public overwhelmingly supports — until it has a governor who’s willing to call out the utter madness of its lawmakers, and hold up the budget for months if that’s what it takes, slamming the Legislature’s leaders for their pro-crime stance every day and inciting open revolt among the rank-and-file who recognize the lunacy.

New York needs a fighter, or it’s headed down the toilet.

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