We all watched in horror last week as an SUV plowed through a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wis., killing six people and injuring more than 60.
The driver, Darrell Brooks, has a long and violent history, with charges and convictions for restricting or obstructing an officer, domestic abuse and rape over a 20-year criminal career. Just before the Waukesha massacre, Brooks was arrested after punching the mother of his child and running her over with his car.
For that, Brooks was charged with recklessly endangering safety, bail-jumping, battery and disorderly conduct. Despite his lengthy rap sheet and known penchant for violence, he was released from jail on just $1,000 cash bail — a number the Democratic Milwaukee County district attorney has since described as “inappropriately low.”
How could such an obviously dangerous person be allowed back onto the streets? The answer lies with one of many radical policies progressives have adopted in their quest to undermine law enforcement: the elimination of cash bail in the name of equity.
Despite fierce backlash from voters, elected officials and law enforcement, states like New York and Illinois have gone full-steam ahead, stripping judges of their power, hindering their ability to use their discretion to best serve victims and keep criminals off the street — with predictable and horrifying consequences.
We’ve learned the hard way that eliminating cash bail and handcuffing judges is a terrible idea to anyone with two brain cells to rub together. It has been almost two years since cashless bail was implemented here in New York state, and the list of those unnecessarily victimized by its criminal benefactors seemingly grows by the day.
Last weekend, a man assaulted a police officer with a stolen car on the RFK Bridge just three weeks after being released without bail following his arrest on third-degree grand larceny and third-degree criminal possession of stolen property charges.
A man facing felony arson charges went on to murder a mother and her daughter not even a week after being released without bail.
Another New York City man bragged to the police that he was going to be released without bail as he was arrested three times in 36 hours, and he was right.
An ex-convict who was convicted of attempting to kill a police officer was recently re-arrested for — you guessed it — attacking another NYPD officer and was freed without bail.
And these cases happened just over the past few weeks.
This problem isn’t a left-vs.-right issue. Since announcing my campaign for governor, I have been traveling throughout the state. Almost everywhere I go, I hear from people from all walks of life, regardless of political leanings, that they want cashless bail repealed.
Across New York, communities large and small are grappling with spikes in violent crime, police-budget cuts and political leaders hostile to law enforcement while taking the side of criminals.
Meanwhile, the city of Rochester is experiencing its deadliest year on record with no end to the bloodshed in sight. It’s beyond frustrating to see our once-quiet neighborhoods turn into war zones while the Democrats in Albany, for the sake of appeasing their far-left Twitter followers, ignore the pleas of everyday New Yorkers affected by the crime waves.
Fixing the violence plaguing our streets and keeping our communities safe starts at the top. Gov. Kathy Hochul and the Legislature need to immediately repeal the fatally flawed cashless-bail law and give judges the power to keep criminals behind bars rather than roaming the streets.
Securing our streets is an issue that matters to each and every one of us, and there is plenty of bipartisan support for reforms that will empower law enforcement to do their jobs safely and effectively.
Our state has been forced to suffer through two long years of these radical, boneheaded policies, and New Yorkers have had enough. They’re tired of the attacks on our legal system, our brave men and women in blue and, most important, our public safety. If Albany doesn’t act, New Yorkers will — at the ballot box.
Republican Lee Zeldin represents New York’s 1st District in the House of Representatives and is running for governor.