If you have not yet seen the video, perhaps you ought not. It’s that bad. But it’s the basis of this editorial.
It all took place in a subway station in New York City a little over a week ago. In it, a boy, 16, jumped a turnstile, and one of New York’s Finest, along with his partner, prepared to arrest the kid to charge him with fare evasion. In doing so, however, the teenager lost his ever-loving mind and started to attack the officer as onlookers did what they always seem to do when things like this happen — they pulled out their cell phones and did their best Spielberg.
The kid was relentless, so much so the officer’s partner, a woman, appeared not to intervene.
The kid got the best of the officer, for sure, though in the end, it was not the officer whose face was cut up — it was the kid’s. Some might even say rightfully so. And mind you, it wasn’t because the officer assaulted the suspect. He barely touched him in his own defense.
But what’s most infuriating about this actually goes well beyond the teenager’s reaction to not paying a $2.75 fare — it’s that a week before this crime, the suspect had been behind bars on a felony charge — and just six hours after pummeling a sworn law enforcement officer, the punk was back out on the streets — released on his own recognizance by a New York judge after both instances.
Let’s review and repeat this.
A 16-year-old boy who already had a felony charge against him was out, free, to commit crime again, he did just that — beating up a police officer — and he was sprung without having to pay even 1¢ in bail twice. While it hasn’t happened yet, or that we know of, there’s no doubt he will break the law again before he ever goes before a judge to face his charges. And, when he does, he’ll very likely be ROR again.
And we thought New Jersey’s bail reform was bad.
The truth is, all bail reform was designed, in principle, to avoid excessive bail, a protection already afforded to criminals in the United States Constitution’s Eighth Amendment. On paper, some of the reforms made sense — since there were many known cases of people, for months upon months, locked up in jails, waiting for their day in court. Nothing makes sense about keeping a first-time criminal with a simple drug possession charge behind bars for 18 months because he couldn’t afford bail.
But when cases like this arise, it’s nothing short of infuriating when they’re released as if they had a broken tail light.
Bail reform, had it been done right, could have been a blessing. Instead, it has led crime-doers into a sense of security, that no matter what they do, to whom they do it, or how many times they do it, it doesn’t matter, because they’ll likely be back on the streets within hours — to do it all over again.
In too many cases, that’s exactly what they do.
It also begs the question — why do cops even bother arresting criminals? Sometimes, just locking one person up can keep them off the street for hours at a time, to book, fingerprint, write reports, etc. Then, by the time all of this is complete, some judge who has no clue of what happened is saying, “OK, no room for you in the inn — go home and behave.”
It seems ridiculous, no? But this is what is happening! In New York City, in New Jersey and in other states that have enacted bail reform.
We supported bail reform when it was being discussed — but not like this, one bit. That this New York kid was out six hours after he beat an NYPD officer is downright sickening. Someone, somewhere, somehow, has to step up and get the ball rolling.
Will it be New York City Mayor Eric Adams?
Will it be Jersey Gov. Philip D. Murphy?
Highly unlikely. But it has to be someone, soon, before more lives are lost and before criminals completely take over City streets — heck, they may even try to take over streets on this side of the Hudson River, too.
Steve Tanelli, we’re looking at you on this side of the Hudson. Actually, we’re looking at any elected official with the capacity to do so — to do so! Now.
The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and don’t necessarily reflect the opinions of ownership & management.
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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.