Rep. Lee Zeldin at a meeting in Calverton in March 2019. Photo: Denise Civiletti

It’s only been a month since New York’s law took effect allowing for the immediate release of criminals without bail, but too many New Yorkers have already witnessed the ramifications of this dangerous law first-hand. 

Under this newly enacted law, in varying degrees, criminally negligent homicide, manslaughter, assault, burglary and stalking are just a few of the many crimes in which the accused person is now eligible for immediate release without cash bail.

Right on William Floyd Parkway, we witnessed a local man with an ever-growing rap sheet charged with killing a 27-year-old man while driving drunk, but despite his six felony convictions, six misdemeanor convictions, and more, the driver was released the same day without bail. The judge said he couldn’t even issue an ankle monitor under the new cashless bail law. 

This story, while shocking, is evidence of what has become a systemic problem under the state’s new cashless bail law. A serial bank robber in New York City was arrested after allegedly robbing four banks, but because of the state’s new cashless bail law he was set free. Within five hours of his release, he was reported to have struck again, robbing banks in Manhattan and Brooklyn. 

A man charged with mugging an 83-year-old woman in Queens with reportedly at least 14 prior arrests, was set free under the new law. Apparently, it wasn’t until officers enraged by his release began looking into his background and found he was on parole from a prior burglary that he was arrested and held.

Last week, a man attempted to attack a woman in a subway bathroom. As it turns out, he was released from jail two weeks prior under the new cashless bail law after being arrested for burglary. With countless other examples of the many flaws of this new law, the State of New York must immediately reverse course.

These are some of the communities’ most dangerous criminals. In fact, hundreds of those behind bars have been released in Suffolk County alone, dozens of them gang members. Our communities have been greatly harmed by the rise of MS-13, and our brave law enforcement has put their lives on the line to remove their brutality from our streets. 

These law enforcement officers are doing their sworn duty to protect us, but New York’s cashless bail law undermines their morale, efforts, and, most importantly, authority. In the courtroom, it rips away judges’ judicial discretion, ties their hands and forces them to ignore prior convictions and the risk of repeat offenders. Instead of handcuffing criminals, this misguided law handcuffs justice.

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) represents New York’s First Congressional District


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Lee Zeldin represents the First Congressional District of New York, serving on both the House Financial Services and Foreign Affairs Committees.