In NYC, More Criminals Are Free, Producing More Crime

At long last, it seems some Democrats are realizing how destructive their criminal justice reforms can be. Last week, Mayor Adams called on the Legislature to meet for a special session to revisit the 2019 reform that sharply limited the use of cash bail. Amid rising crime and the seasonal summer spike in violence, Adams seems to understand that letting large numbers of arrestees walk free before their trial is partly to blame.

The latest NYPD statistics show that overall crime in New York City is up more than 37% over the last year. This should be no surprise to anyone keeping an eye on the Legislature’s mismanagement of the jail population. When bail reform was passed in New York in April of 2019, the number of inmates in NYC jails stood at 7,809. Eight months later, by the time it became fully effective, more than 2,000 inmates, most of them career criminals with long criminal records had been released from city custody with little to no supervision.

Almost immediately, crime began its now-historic rise. After 27 years of steady reductions in the rate of crime, 2020 saw increases in crime that have not been seen in decades. By mid-March of 2020, even before the COVID pandemic became a factor, overall crime in NYC had risen 20% year-to-date over the same period in 2019. Burglary was up 26.5%, car theft 68%, grand larceny 15.8%, and robbery 33.9%. In the last full year before bail reform (2019), there was a 1.1% decline in crime for the full year.

Nor was this a fluke. When you compare the crime rates for the first two-and-a-half months of 2019 (before bail reform) to the first two-and-a-half months of 2022 (two-and-a-half years into bail reform), the crime rate rose 36.6%, with significant hikes cross the various index crimes — the eight main crimes used by the FBI to measure overall criminal activity.

In the face of this chaos on the streets, criminal justice advocates have sought additional ways to reduce the population of city jails, a necessity if the city is to close Rikers Island and replace it with borough-based jails with a maximum capacity of 3,300 inmates. To meet that limit, 2,300 inmates currently in the jail system must be released, a concerning prospect when crime is rising, and 74% of the inmates currently held pretrial are being held on violent felony charges. 94% are being held on felonies.

The push to end systemic racism has not only resulted in Black people constituting a higher percentage of inmates on Rikers Island than before bail reform (from 55.3% pre-reform to 58.8%), but also has unleashed a deadly crime wave that is most significantly affecting the poor and people of color. Black people and Hispanics constitute 48.5% of the city’s population, but account for 90.7% of murder victims, 96.9% of shooting victims, 71.5% of robbery victims, 79.8% of felony assault victims, 52.8% of grand larceny victims, and 75.5% of misdemeanor assault victims.

Data released by the state’s Office of Court Administration pursuant to the 2019 reforms show that the people for whom bail would have been set under the old law — those with prior or pending cases and who also showed that they were a flight risk — are driving the increase in crime, at least in the non-violent felony and misdemeanor categories where judges cannot set bail. Half of the felony defendants who were released on non-monetary release, the city’s alternative to bail, get re-arrested while their case is pending. The re-arrest rate is 70% for commercial burglary, grand larceny, and robbery. It is 62% for home burglars, 79% for shoplifters.

Click here to read the full article in the Daily News

Trump says He Expects to Be Arrested on Tuesday, Calls for Protests

NEW YORK, March 18 (Reuters) – Former U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday said he expects to be arrested on Tuesday as New York prosecutors consider charges over a hush money payment to a porn star, and called on his supporters to protest.

“Illegal leaks from a corrupt & highly political Manhattan district attorney’s office … indicate that, with no crime being able to be proven … the far & away leading Republican candidate & former president of the United States of America, will be arrested on Tuesday of next week,” Trump wrote on Truth Social.

A spokesman for Trump said the former president had not been notified of any arrest. Trump provided no evidence of leaks from the district attorney’s office and did not discuss the possible charges in his post.

“Protest, take our nation back!” said Trump, whose supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021, to try to overturn his 2020 presidential election defeat.

The probe comes as Trump seeks the Republican nomination for the presidency in 2024.

No U.S. president – while in office or afterward – has faced criminal charges. Trump has said he will continue campaigning even if he is charged with a crime.

A spokesperson for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, whose office has been investigating a $130,000 hush payment Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen made to porn actor Stormy Daniels, declined to comment.

Sources have said Bragg’s office has been presenting evidence to a grand jury about the payment, which came in the waning days of Trump’s 2016 campaign in exchange for Daniels’ silence about an affair she said she had with Trump a decade earlier.

Trump has denied the affair happened and called the investigation by Bragg, a Democrat, a witch hunt.

An additional witness is expected to appear before the grand jury on Monday, at the request of Trump’s lawyers, a person familiar with the matter said on Saturday.

Trump’s statement that he expected to be arrested on Tuesday is based on news reports that Bragg’s office is going to be meeting with law enforcement to prepare for a possible indictment, said the person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The Republican speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, on Saturday decried the investigation.

“Here we go again — an outrageous abuse of power by a radical DA who lets violent criminals walk as he pursues political vengeance against President Trump,” McCarthy said on Twitter.


McCarthy’s predecessor as speaker, Democratic Representative Nancy Pelosi, who like McCarthy was present at the Capitol when hundreds of Trump supporters stormed the building, battling with police, denounced Trump’s call.

“The former president’s announcement this morning is reckless: doing so to keep himself in the news and to foment unrest among his supporters,” Pelosi said in a statement. “He cannot hide from his violations of the law, disrespect for our elections and incitements to violence.”

Trump’s former vice president Mike Pence told ABC News Trump’s possible indictment “just feels like a politically charged prosecution here.” Asked about Trump’s call for people to protest if he is indicted, Pence said he thinks protesters will understand “they need to do so peacefully and in a lawful manner.”

Bragg’s office earlier this month invited Trump to testify before the grand jury probing the payment, which legal experts said was a sign that an indictment was close. Trump declined the offer, the person familiar with the matter said.

Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to federal campaign finance violations tied to his arranging payments to Daniels and another woman in exchange for their silence about affairs they said they’d had with Trump, among other crimes. He has said Trump directed him to make the payments. The U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan did not charge Trump with a crime.

The probe is one of several legal woes Trump faces as he seeks the Republican nomination for the presidency.

Trump is also confronting a state-level criminal probe in Georgia over efforts to overturn the 2020 results in that state.

A special counsel named by U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland is currently investigating Trump’s handling of classified government documents after leaving office, as well as his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election, which he lost to President Joe Biden, a Democrat.

Bragg’s office last year won the conviction of the Trump Organization on tax fraud charges. But Bragg declined to charge Trump himself with financial crimes related to his business practices, prompting two prosecutors who worked on the probe to resign.

Trump, who was in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Saturday and attended the NCAA wrestling championships, leads his early rivals for his party’s nomination. He had the support of 43% of Republicans in a February Reuters/Ipsos poll, compared with 31% for his nearest rival, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has not yet announced his candidacy.

Trump in 2018 initially disputed knowing anything about the payment to Daniels. He later acknowledged reimbursing Cohen for the payment, which he called a “simple private transaction.”

Cohen, who served time in prison after pleading guilty, testified before the grand jury this week. Grand jury proceedings are not public. Outside the courthouse in lower Manhattan, he told reporters he did not testify out of a desire for revenge against Trump.

“This is all about accountability,” he said. “He needs to be held accountable for his dirty deeds.”

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, spoke with prosecutors last week, according to her lawyer.

Trump founded his Truth Social media platform after being banned by Twitter, Facebook and YouTube following the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol. He has since regained his accounts on those services, though he limited his Saturday statement to Truth.

Click here to read the full article in Reuters

San Francisco’s Absurd Resistance to Change

San Francisco, CA, USAIt’s natural to be unsettled by change, but residents of San Francisco take resistance to change to absurd levels. In 1958, Gavin Elster — the shipping magnate played by Tom Helmore in Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo — expressed San Francisco’s deeply engrained ambivalence to change well: “The things that spell San Francisco to me are disappearing fast.” A recent letter to the editor in the San Francisco Chronicle shared the typical modern lament: “Has San Francisco’s economic growth truly made it a more interesting place to live? Or just a place with more shiny but soulless places to spend money?”

Every day, similar hyperbole appears in the press, in social media, and in conversations: San Francisco is becoming a “hollow city” catering to highly paid tech workers. Most job growth has been in the Silicon Valley suburbs an hour or so south, and the “Google buses” ferrying young professionals up and down the peninsula have become symbols of an invasion. Contemporary San Franciscans resent them the way earlier locals resented the influx of Chinese in the 1870s and the gays and lesbians in the 1970s. This time around, it’s the young and well-paid newcomers who threaten the status quo, not the poor or marginalized. We hear that these people aren’t like us, they don’t share our values, and they should go back where they came from.

Paradoxically, in a city famed for new ideas, resistance to change is a cherished San Francisco value. The city’s population is less than one tenth that of New York, yet the San Francisco planning department processes three times more applications than Gotham’s planning commission. That’s because public review — with generous opportunities to appeal — is a cherished sport here. For example, any exterior building alteration to a structure more than 50 years old requires historic review by the city — a process that can easily take a year. Environmental review of a proposal to install bicycle lanes took three years. When a proposal for a cluster of office and residential towers downtown—without any residential displacement and with 40 percent of the housing to be permanently affordable — came before the planning commission recently, protesters chanting “genocide” shut the hearing down.

San Franciscans have easy access to the ballot by petition. In November, residents voted on five initiatives addressing the changing city, including Airbnb regulation, protections for “legacy” shops, and an 18-month shut down of private housing development in the Mission District. This love of process over action shows just how intractable the city’s growing pains are. The city’s political leaders have few real solutions to San Francisco’s real problems, so instead we San Franciscans lash out at symbols: tech workers and the buses that take them to their jobs; chain stores; and fancy new restaurants. By these lights, New York seems more comfortable as a city of ambition. The idea of San Francisco as a place that attracts young people interested in working hard and making money is fairly new. Even in the Gold Rush days, one sought one’s fortune scattered by a streambed, not in the city. In San Francisco, hustle is unbecoming.

New York and San Francisco are both paying the price of gentrification and revival. People get pushed out, or crowded, or have long commutes. But the two cities are different in key ways. In San Francisco, if you want a walkable neighborhood with cafes and bakeries and the amenities that Jane Jacobs championed, you have few choices. San Francisco doesn’t have the equivalent of a Cobble Hill, a Jackson Heights, or a Hoboken, and lacks the reliable, regional public transit system that would make longer commutes bearable. The San Francisco Metro and the regional BART system combined have just 104 miles of track. New York’s subways run 842 miles, not to mention the PATH system, Metro North, New Jersey Transit, and Long Island Railroad that funnel workers into and out of the central city. While San Francisco is a cultural and economic heavyweight, it’s a relatively small city: 850,000 residents within 49 square miles, with water on three sides. Here, the shifts seem tectonic. They feel like an earthquake.

Plenty of solutions for San Francisco’s planning gridlock spring to mind. The challenges are not technical; they are merely a matter of political will. Most development projects should go forward if they comply with planning codes. The arduous, costly, and risky review and appeals processes should be streamlined. The California Environmental Quality Act should be amended so that it encourages smart growth rather than sprawl. Small infill projects should be exempted. But I’m not holding my breath for any of this. What is needed is a radical change in the local culture. San Francisco needs to learn to embrace change without fear and give up its love affair with process.