A New York City man has been arrested for derailing a Manhattan subway train by tossing metal debris onto the tracks. The alleged perpetrator had been charged for attacking a city bus with a metal street barricade and smashing in windows only a couple of weeks earlier – and was released without bail.
In Miami, a young man viciously assaulted a woman riding a subway train. The unprovoked beat down was caught on camera and showed the assailant punching the victim repeatedly and slamming her head into a wall and the seat. This same man reportedly went on to attack two other people in similar incidents on the Miami metro that same day. He was let out on $1,500 bond.
It’s easy to see where the push to empty the prisons is going to lead. In fact, it is already happening. The movement to “end mass incarceration” will have a hard time convincing regular Americans of the efficacy of its campaign after they’re assaulted on their morning commute – or if the train itself careens off the rails – all because some dangerous criminal was allowed to run free in the name of some ill-defined “social justice” mantra.
Cut Them Loose
Activists who spearheaded a radical criminal justice reform bill through the New York state legislature in 2019 are still irate that their shiny new law was tapered back in the wake of a crime wave. “The law, which passed in April 2019, limited the number of crimes for which judges could set bail, mostly to violent felonies,” Politico reported. “Almost everyone else — those who make up 90 percent of arrests in the state — could walk free while they waited for their trial date.”
The law took effect in January. After the New York City Police Department released a report stating that crime had risen 22.5% in February 2020 compared with February 2019, mounting public pressure led to a bail reform law swiftly being passed in April to scale back the free passes. “If we had been able to give those changes time and space to take hold, I’m very confident that we would have seen how right we were,” Scott Hechinger, a New York bail reform advocate, mourned. “The problem was, we didn’t have patience.”
Despite the new bail reform law, it’s apparent that open-the-prisons advocates still wield significant clout. Why else would Demetrius Harvard be let go with no bail after smashing windows on a city bus? A man whose wife was on the train derailed by Harvard’s menacingly anti-social act stated the very crux of the matter that will prove so hard for progressive activists to overcome in the long run. “This has me so frightened for my wife, on the trains,” Prymnauth Persaud told The New York Post. “I am worried when she is on the subways now. We are all taking the subway. We all still have to work.”
Yes, but some of us have comfortable ivory towers instead of cubicles. John Pfaff, a law professor at Fordham, wants to make it clear that his championing of a looser criminal justice system most certainly refers to violent criminals as well. “Our draconian approach toward violent crime rests on viewing certain people, and certain groups of people, as not fully human,” the professor opined in an audacious April 10 piece for The Washington Post. “This has always been a pressing concern in criminal justice reform; during the [Coronavirus] pandemic, it is a matter of life and death.”
“It’s clear that we are a deeply punitive country, but it’s time to delve into the morality of severely penalizing violence,” Pfaff asserted. “Race and poverty inevitably play huge roles,” he stated.
Pfaff labeled those who oppose ending bail and other reform measures as speaking for well-off Americans when discussing the threat to citizen safety:
“But the ‘us’ the critics really speak for are mostly those who live in relatively wealthy, safe areas. For them, bail reform, expanded parole or any other significant shift in how we handle criminal justice seems as if it could (slightly) increase the (already small) chance of their being victimized, with no real direct upside, since the people being needlessly stopped, detained, jailed, charged, tried, convicted and imprisoned — and suffering all the harms those interactions create — are not their family members, not their friends, not their co-workers and not even their neighbors. Why, the thinking goes, should ‘we’ expose ourselves to risks that have no upside for ‘us’?”
Thus we have the spectacle of a cozily ensconced university professor declaring from his lofty perch that Americans concerned about letting criminals run wild are the pampered privileged who callously refuse to consider the plight of the lower classes. Perhaps Pfaff should view the shocking video of Joshua James King pummeling a much smaller Andrea Puerta on the Miami Metromover transit line. It is unlikely that Puerta was riding the city rails because her Rolls Royce had broken down. She seems very much to represent one of the “communities of color” that Pfaff claims are unfairly targeted by high-priced bail.
According to Local 10 News in Miami, “King, 25, punched Puerta, 29, more than 20 times during the Sept. 4 attack. He kicked, pushed, and slammed her headfirst. She suffered a concussion.”
“I remember that I closed my hands and I said, ‘STOP! STOP! He did not stop,” Puerta told the news outlet. “There was a moment when he said, ‘Sorry’ and I looked at him and he punched me and after that, I don’t know what happened.”
“I don’t know how I am alive,” she concluded.
King proceeded to allegedly attack two other men on the rail service before being apprehended. Charged with three counts of aggravated battery charges, he was incomprehensibly released on a $1,500 bond six days later.
The major problem here is easy to spot. The loudest voices calling for an end to “mass incarceration” are the same ones who see everything in the blinding prism of race. No one denies that reasonable arguments can be made to avoid locking up specific non-violent individuals based on certain alleged lower-level crimes.
But when it comes to identity politics as practiced by the left, sweeping action must always be applied. Simply looking at what a perpetrator has allegedly done and then making appropriate and responsible judgments about the threat he poses to the general public cannot be allowed when we are all infected by our “systemic racism” and “innate privilege.”
It all makes for easy sloganeering until the train rolls off the track.
Read more from Joe Schaeffer.