By WSR Editorial Staff
Most of the political attention on the Upper West Side has been focused on the District 12 Congressional primary between Carolyn Maloney, Jerry Nadler, and Suraj Patel, brought to us by this year’s redistricting kerfuffle.
But redistricting created another new district for us to consider: State Senate District 47, which, for some unknown reason, was plopped between Districts 28 and 30. District 47 covers, roughly, “the West Side of Manhattan from the Meatpacking District to the Upper West Side,” according to the Gotham Gazette. Or, as one candidate running in the district, Senator Brad Hoylman, put it, “from Christopher Street/Stonewall to 103rd Street.”
As you have probably surmised from the photo, Hoylman was endorsed by Congressman Jerry Nadler, and vice versa. They are both self-described and proud “progressives.” Hoylman, who has been in the State Senate for 9 years, is being challenged by Maria Danzilo, a lawyer and former candidate for City Council, who, in 2020, came in second — albeit by a wide margin — to Gale Brewer, the former Manhattan borough president, who had held the council seat before.
Danzilo is a political newcomer who does not call herself a progressive, but rather, a “common sense candidate.” She’s focused on one issue as a big dividing line between her candidacy and Hoylman’s Senate record: bail reform. He was one of 23 co-sponsors of the controversial legislation, which Danzilo says is responsible for the rise in crime we are now experiencing in the neighborhood and city.
“They went too far, they didn’t think it through,” said Danzilo of the reforms, passed by the state legislature and signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2019. Bail reform took effect in 2020, eliminating the use of cash bail for most misdemeanors and some nonviolent felony charges.
Hoylman says Danzilo is confusing “causation with correlation. Crime has increased in virtually every city and state across the nation,” he points out. “Those other states didn’t reform their bail laws. So to say the laws are the culprit…the statistics just don’t support it.”
Here is Danzilo’s emailed response. It’s followed by a statement from Hoylman. Both were edited slightly by the Rag for length.
Our elected leaders need to stop saying that crime is not real, or that New York crime should be dismissed because it is part of a national trend. We can’t fix the problem until we acknowledge a problem exists. The overall crime index has increased 30.5% in July, year over year, and the rates are much higher in the 20th and 24th precincts, 55.41% and 31.43%, respectively.
Under the new law, Judges could only consider whether the person is a flight risk, and, for the small number of bail-qualifying offenses, they could only impose the “least restrictive option” to assure a defendant’s return to court. Judges could not consider whether a person is dangerous, because the law did not include a “dangerousness standard.” This provision would have given judges the ability to impose bail if, based on criminal history, the person is a threat to public safety. This “dangerousness standard” is included in every other state’s bail legislation, and is even part of federal bail law.
Following public pushback, the state legislature made some modifications, adding more bail eligible crimes, but refused to address the fundamental flaw in the law: that dangerous and repeat recidivists could be released into the community.
A second round of tweaks were made in Spring, 2022, but, again, Governor Hochul and the legislature refused to fix the loophole. Adding the nationally accepted dangerousness standard into the law would address this flaw. [It]is a reasonable and pragmatic solution that will restore the balance between reform and public safety. New York’s judiciary is one of the finest in the country, and the vast majority of judges do their jobs with diligence and competence. The legislature needs to give judges the authority to do their jobs.”
Senator Brad Hoylman
Everyone wants to point to bail reform, which addressed a glaring discrepancy in our criminal justice system: If you’re rich, you get out of jail. If you’re poor, you’re thrown into Rikers to languish and, possibly, die. Hundreds of incarcerated individuals who have never had a trial are forced into cells, some, solitary confinement. We can’t accept that. That’s just not the way our country, which has due process, should operate.
Look at the uptick in crime across the country. If bail reform is responsible, why do cities like Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, and Miami have increased gun shootings and recidivist shopliftings? The best solutions, in my opinion, are the data-driven ones I’ve been working on in Albany. For example, I’ve been helping lead the efforts to re-open Midtown Community Court. MCC is the nation’s foremost problem-solving court and helps reduce recidivism by linking defendants to treatment and services as a condition of their release.
Second, every New Yorker realizes we have a mental health crisis on our streets, which contributes to recidivism. I’ve passed legislation in the Senate that will help more hospitals treat more psychiatric patients for longer. Third, I’ve written legislation to hold online platforms accountable for fencing stolen goods. Fourth, I’ve passed legislation to help law enforcement track guns and improve our clearance rates by mandating microstamping technology on newly-manufactured handguns.
And finally, we worked in Albany last year to address the concerns raised about the bail law. Repeat offenders and those charged with gun possession are, in fact, now bail eligible. And I agree with Governor Hochul that judges have wide discretion in sentencing repeat offenders; they apparently need to be better educated on how to best use these tools.