True Law And Order Missing From Albany’s Agenda

On it goes in New York State under one-party rule. 

Governor Kathy Hochul called the State Legislature into an extraordinary session in the name of making the state safer and the agenda did not include any action on measures that many criminal justice experts and law enforcement leaders believe would truly begin making New York State safer. 

Only in New York. 

At a time when our state becomes more crime-ridden by the day and when polls keep showing that personal safety is the issue at or near the top of the public’s priority concerns, Governor Hochul and the Legislature’s Democrat supermajorities keep looking the other way on everyday lawlessness, mayhem, and violence in too many places. 

A Siena College survey in early May reported that “one-quarter of voters say that crime will be the single most important issue in determining which candidate gets their support for governor in November…economic issues combined — including jobs, inflation, and the cost of living — are also identified by one-quarter of voters as the most important issue.” 

New York State residents don’t feel safe, and they’re worried about making ends meet, and Governor Hochul convenes an emergency legislative session that stays silent on those concerns. 

It’s a shocking statement on the current condition of our state. 

Throughout the six months of this year’s regular legislative session, which ended in early June, the governor and the Democrat leaders in the state Senate and Assembly kept advancing their next steps in what has been – beginning under former Governor Andrew Cuomo — a long and dismal stretch of pro-criminal actions wreaking havoc on our streets and in our neighborhoods. 

It’s an Albany Democrat mindset that has grabbed hold at the highest levels of New York government and tells a big part of the story about how and why New York is being steadily defined as a pro-criminal, anti-law-and-order, soft-on-crime haven. 

Albany Democrats keep pushing a radical remaking of our system of criminal justice and public safety, to the point where many New Yorkers, as evidenced by the most recent Siena poll and others, no longer recognize or agree with the direction it’s headed. 

They just keep putting more and more New Yorkers at risk and uneasy about safety in the places where they live and work. 

Just when you think that finally they have gone too far, it turns out that they think it’s not far enough. This map of bad directions includes: 

  • disastrous and dangerous bail and discovery reform since 2019 
  • extremely lenient parole policies that have put cop killers and child murderers back on the street and amounted to a literal jail break for thousands of criminals and convicts 
  • the attempted wholesale erasure of criminal records as if millions of them never even existed 
  • an ever-growing “defund the police” mentality
  • closing state prisons, including Southport which housed the worst of the worst convicts, Willard which provided critically important drug treatment, and Monterey Shock with its renowned low recidivism record, all the while hamstringing corrections discipline of violent inmates and ignoring the rising tide of violence within state prisons
  • turning their backs on crime victims
  • a host of other pro-criminal, anti-law-and-order initiatives and policies. 

    In response, Senate and Assembly Republican conferences have called for a far different approach. Our approach would restore a strong commitment to law and order, rebuild confidence in public safety, and refocus on safer communities. 

    Among numerous proposals in the Senate, for example, our Take Back New York agenda would: 

    — Reinvest in law enforcement and reject an increasingly pervasive and highly troubling “defund the police” movement within the Legislature;  

    — End cashless bail, restore judicial discretion and reject proposals like the wholesale erasure of criminal records; 

    — Repair clearly unworkable discovery and “speedy trial” laws that have led to a revolving door system for repeat and violent criminal offenders; 

    — Refocus New York’s parole process so that it prioritizes the protection and rights of crime victims and their families, and will never release the most violent criminals, including cop and child killers, back on the streets; and 

    — Invest in proven mental health and other services to ensure that those struggling with addiction, homelessness and mental illness receive the help they need. 

    There have been and will always be legitimate debates about the root causes of crime and violence, and what government’s response can and should be. 

    In my view and the view of many others, New York State government should never be in the business of enacting laws that embolden society’s criminal element. 

    Government should never be in the business of making New York’s criminal justice system more lenient, permissive, or open to abuse. 

    Sadly, it has been big business for Albany Democrats under one-party control and we all keep paying the price.

Senator Tom O’Mara represents New York’s 58th Senate District.