Originally published November 30, 2022
With 2022 winding to a close, the results are starting to come in regarding crime rates in New York City. As anyone with a pulse and a set of eyeballs could determine, crime has been rising steadily for the past few years, with 2022 being no exception. The data, however, is even worse than previously thought.
Newly-released NYPD statistics show that felony crimes on the subway system are up by 40% as compared to last year. Felonies, which include rape, murder, and robbery, hit 1,917 incidents from January through October of this year. 2021 had 1,367 in the same time period. October had 210 felonies, an increase from September’s 198.
The New York Post did a comparison from the Manhattan District Attorney’s website of 2019 – the last pre-pandemic year – and 2022, Alvin Bragg’s first year on the job. The results are in: Bragg couldn’t convict a jaywalker in the middle of the street. Felony cases resulting in convictions are at 51%, down from 68%. Misdemeanor cases are at a measly 29%, down from 53%.
Those are just the ones that Bragg chose to prosecute. Felonies that Bragg declines to prosecute hit 1,119, up from 828. 52% of felonies were downgraded to a misdemeanor, up from 2019’s 39%. Bragg didn’t ask for more bail in a majority of felony cases; rather, he allowed the accused to be released back on the streets.
This shouldn’t be any surprise, as Bragg clearly informed his Assistant District Attorney’s about his standard of prosecution in his infamous Day One Memo released last January. He specifically said that the DA will not seek a jail sentence except in homicides and a few other cases. Armed robbery would be a misdemeanor, “provided no victims were seriously injured and there’s no ‘genuine risk of physical harm’ to anyone.” So if you were shot at, but it barelyinjured you, that’s a maximum of 364 days in jail and a $1,000 fine, as opposed to what the law says it is, which is a maximum of 25 years. Same with dealing drugs, which Bragg downgraded to a misdemeanor, without legislative approval.
Bragg is getting all the support he needs from Albany to keep the city as crime-ridden as possible. In addition to the no cash bail law, the state made radical changes to the discovery law, and didn’t fund those changes, which makes it increasingly difficult for DAs who actually want to prosecute criminals the ability to do so. Tight deadlines, incompatible technologies, and demoralizing working conditions have forced attorneys to flee DA offices. Turnover is the highest it’s been in decades. In April, the New York Times reported that “This year alone, 36 have left the Brooklyn district attorney’s office and 44 Manhattan’s. At least 28 have left the Bronx, and the 9 Staten Island assistant district attorneys who have left this year represented about 10 percent of that office’s prosecutorial staff. The Queens office told the New York City Council that it was on track this year to more than double last year’s resignations.” That was April.
This is what Lee Zeldin was warning us about in his campaign, but New Yorkers didn’t listen. Now that Kathy Hochul has been elected to a full term, does she have any intention to try and fix the problem? During the election, she infamously hand-waved the crime issue a number of times. At the debate, she said, “I don’t know why that’s so important to you” when Zeldin kept bringing up crime. She called the GOP “master manipulators” in a “conspiracy” when they talk about crime. She told MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle that New York will “never be San Francisco” when Ruhle said she felt unsafe in the city.
Among a normal populace, any one of these statements would have cost Hochul the election, but in New York it meant that she only won by 5 points instead of 25. Hochul’s entire anti-crime agenda is based on plans that will have no success: more cameras on subways (so we can have more video of crimes to show on social media), hate crime prosecutions (so criminals can get hit with two charges instead of one when politically convenient), and going after guns (with no distinction made between illegal guns and legal guns). None of this will address the fundamental, foundational issue at hand. Democrats care more about looking nice than protecting their constituents.
The problem with the legal system in New York City was not imagined out of whole cloth when Democrats passed these laws and changed their standards of prosecution. Yes, black people were a disproportionate share of the prison population. Yes, poor people were being held in jail because they couldn’t pay the bail to get out. No, it’s not fair that a rich guy gets better lawyers than a poor guy for the same crime. These are societal questions that should be grappled with.
Yet there is no mistaking the fact that this botched experiment, which turned every New Yorker into a guinea pig, is a failure. There is a converse to coddling criminals, and it’s harming the innocent. It’s time for Democrats in Albany to decide if they want to actually protect the people they are charged to protect, or stay the course until the state devolves into complete and utter chaos.