Most NYC perps arrested on gun charges soon walk free — even when they re-offend
In the wake of Police Commissioner Dermot Shea’s remarks last week on the drastic jump in shootings across the city, we asked the NYPD for information to flesh out what we’re calling “the revolving door” — gun perps who’ve been apprehended, but then released thanks to ill-conceived criminal-justice reforms. That info certainly shows a real problem.
As of last week, the NYPD had arrested 3,765 individuals on gun charges in 2020; just 450 are in city or state custody — that is, in jail or prison. That means 88 percent of those at least caught with an illegal gun are now back on the streets.
And of those 3,765, at least 247 were either re- arrested for a different crime within 60 days of the initial arrest or are being sought for re-arrest. (Another 24 are being sought for police interviews as people at the scene or in the know about a new crime within that two-month period.)
Of those 247 alleged re-offenders, only 32 are in custody. In other words, 215 accused gun criminals are walking the streets despite being caught twice within two months; 3,315 are free despite being caught at least once.
Reformers might say: Only 7 percent of offenders were re-arrested for new crimes; that doesn’t justify locking up 100 percent. But that 7 percent were only those who got caught; there’s an excellent chance that many others managed to get away (so far, at least) with follow-up crimes.
Nor is anyone proposing jailing all these perps. But better-written laws would allow the courts to remand more of them — especially the serial offenders. Yet New York’s “no-bail” law, even after a few fixes, still gives judges zero discretion to remand most suspects even when they believe he or she poses a clear threat to public safety.
Even when bail is required, a host of activist nonprofits now help all defendants post it. Oh, and the “Raise the Age” law ensures that cases involving anyone 18 or under will almost always go to Family Court, not Criminal Court.
The bottom line: There’s no single cause turning so many New York neighborhoods into shooting galleries; it’s the fruit of a whole series of reforms — changes in the laws, in the attitudes of judges and prosecutors and even in police tactics — over the past decade. In all the reform, the “pendulum” has clearly swung too far, even though the “advocates” want to push it even further. The question is: How much worse will things get before the public insists on pushing it back the other way?