New York Daily News
ERIC ‘BEAT UP’ IN CRIME FIGHT
ALBANY DEMS NIX PLEA
Mayor Adams returned from a trip to Albany on Monday without securing a commitment from state lawmakers to amend two criminal justice reform laws that he has blamed for the city’s recent spike in shootings and other violent crimes.
His first time back in the state Capitol since becoming mayor, Adams spent most of the day in back-to-back meetings with Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers), Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) and rank-and-file members.
The main focus of the closeddoor sitdowns was Adams’ push for tweaking the state Legislature’s 2020 bail reforms and 2017 “Raise the Age” legislation.
Respectively, the laws championed by progressive Democrats sharply reduced the use of monetary bails for nonviolent offenses and stipulated that only those 18 and older can be criminally prosecuted in New York.
Adams’ sprawling anti-crime plan, released last month, charges that the laws are partly to blame for the city’s recent crime uptick and calls on Albany legislators to alter or outright repeal them.
However, speaking to reporters at the Capitol after his Monday meetings, Adams appeared resigned that his wishes won’t come true — at least just yet — and affirmed he’s laser-focused on reintroducing a modified version of the NYPD’s controversial plainclothes units.
“If I am not getting the things I laid out in the blueprint, I still have the obligation to keeping the city safe. That’s why we are putting in place our anti-gun unit, that’s why we’re going to go after the causes and feeds of crime,” said Adams, a retired NYPD captain.
“I can’t turn around and say, ‘Well I didn’t get help from different places, so now my city is not safe.’ Nope, I’m not accepting that. My job is to make New Yorkers safe, that’s my job. If I get help from other places, that’s fine. Without that help, I still must make sure that New Yorkers are safe, and I’m not going to use any excuse for not doing that.”
Heastie and Stewart-Cousins, who control the legislative agendas in Albany, have shown no signs that they’re seriously considering the demands from Adams since he laid out his “Blueprint to End Gun Violence.” Gov. Hochul has similarly not offered support for the mayor’s advocacy effort.
In her own remarks after their meeting, Stewart-Cousins played the diplomatic card and declined to divulge precisely what she and Adams discussed behind closed doors.
But the Senate majority leader said she remains proud of the “important things” state lawmakers have done “as it relates to criminal justice reform.”
A Democratic legislative source briefed on the matter said
progressive rank-and-file members of the Assembly and Senate made it clear to Adams in their meetings that his push for repealing Raise the Age and the bail reforms are nonstarters with them.
“He got beat up pretty rough in there,” the source told the Daily News.
Brooklyn Assemblywoman Latrice Walker, a key architect behind the bail reforms who clashed with Adams during a virtual budget hearing last week, made the case that the mayor’s arguments are disputed by data.
“Bail reform is not responsible for the recent spike in gun violence in the city. The state’s own data shows that only 2% of the cases that would fall under the bail reform law led to a rearrest for a violent felony,” she said at a press conference Monday morning.
“Even fewer were rearrested for crimes involving a gun. What we need are targeted investments in violence prevention, including housing, mental health care, drug treatment and harm reduction services — not more cages.”
On the bail reform issue, Adams has argued that the Legislature should allow judges to consider a defendant’s perceived “dangerousness” before deciding whether to let them go without bail. But progressives have countered that such a rule would disproportionately impact Black and Brown New Yorkers.
“Adding a ‘dangerousness provision’ to the existing bail statute would only cycle more Black and Latinx New Yorkers through our broken and punitive criminal legal system, feeding mass incarceration,” the Legal Aid Society said in a statement after Adams’ Albany trip. “Returning to a system where New York incarcerates more youth will not work because it never reduced crime nor benefited public safety in the 100 years before Raise the Age or bail reform were passed.”
Despite the intense pushback, Adams, who served as a state senator between 2007 and 2013, suggested he wasn’t fazed.
“Albany is the same. It’s the same Albany,” he chuckled. “You navigate these halls, you walk these halls, that’s how you get stuff done.”