New York, NY – New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has unveiled a plan to “more than triple” the number of juvenile offenders who are freed from jail without bond, including some teen offenders facing charges of assault, armed robbery and burglary.
“We’re ensuring there are real alternatives to incarceration particularly for our young New Yorkers,” de Blasio told reporters on Tuesday, according to the New York Post.
Under the mayor’s new guidelines for the no-bail Supervised Release Program, which will go into effect on Saturday, offenders between the ages of 16 and 19 will qualify for the city’s Youth Engagement Track, the New York Post reported.
That program was previously not available to 18- and 19-year-old defendants.
The policy changes will also “significantly” expand the number of adult offenders who will be eligible for no-bond release.
“We need to focus on getting them on the right track,” de Blasio told the New York Post. “We need to support them. We need to make sure they’re being redeemed — not just locked up.”
Those charged with first- and second-degree robbery, burglary, and assault will also now be eligible.
“Based on 2017 bail numbers for the affected ages and charges, these changes should more than triple the number of defendants eligible for the Youth Engagement Track,” the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice executive director of diversion initiatives Miriam Popper added.
Under the policy changes, defendants will no longer need to prove that they have ties to the community to be considered for supervised release.
Instead of needing to meet five “risk points” to be designated as a “high risk” offender, defendants will have to meet at least nine.
Teen offenders released from jail on the no-bond program will be required to undergo cognitive-behavioral therapy, and must be “placed on an intensive supervision schedule in the first month,” according to a May 13 memo from Popper to city judges.
Requirements for adult defendants will be tailored to their specific needs, the New York Post reported.
“In our city, we have reduced our jail population about 30 percent already,” de Blasio boasted on Sunday, according to the paper. “We are ending the era of mass incarceration in New York City.”
Some New York judges have expressed concern that the policy changes will tie their hands and eliminate their ability to exercise discretion over who should and shouldn’t be placed in the no-bond programs.
The Mayor’s Advisory Committee on the Judiciary plays a powerful role in determining who is selected to sit on the bench, so judges may feel pressured to release potentially dangerous defendants in order to save their own jobs, the New York Post reported.
“Oh no, no — judges are going to make their own decisions. We’re providing them an option. They’re going to decide what makes sense,” de Blasio said on Tuesday.
A high-ranking New York Police Department official denounced the mayor’s policy changes and noted that those who implemented them “don’t live in the neighborhoods where people are being robbed and assaulted.”
“People who have never been a victim of crime, they really don’t think about the consequences of this,” the official told the New York Post. “Without bail, the perps will be thinking: ‘I’m in and I’m out. Nothing’s going to happen. What’s the big deal?’”