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OPINION: Ignoring Crime Won’t Make It Go Away

By Will Barclay


The Assembly majority conference in late May] blocked a package of bills designed to, among other things, curb rampant criminal recidivism, hold child murderers accountable, stop hate crimes against law enforcement and reduce gun crime. The proposals were summarily dismissed in committee meetings, and as such will not even be afforded consideration by the Assembly as a whole. Again, the public is left to wonder why career criminal continues to be a viable profession in New York while crime victims are treated like second-class citizens.

The majority’s blanket policy of disregarding statutes originating from our side of the aisle is a tired practice that has done nothing to make New York a better place. Our proposals offer common-sense solutions rooted in feedback from every segment of the criminal-justice system. The public is tired of living in fear, and law-enforcement officials have seen their authority consistently undermined.

Consider the following public-safety measures rejected by the Assembly majority conference leadership. 

• Judicial Discretion (A.3183, Reilly) — Restores the ability of judges to determine whether a violent criminal poses a dangerous threat to the community and can be held without bail.

• No Parole for Child Murderers (A.4041, Maher) — Requires a life sentence without parole for the murder of a child under 13 years old.

• Tougher Penalties for Shoplifting (A.5029, Reilly) — Authorizes prosecutors to combine petit-larceny charges occurring in one 18-month period.

• Hate Crimes Against Law Enforcement (A.3417, DeStefano) — Designates offenses against law enforcement, whether actual law-enforcement officers, or those perceived as law-enforcement officers, as hate crimes — thereby increasing the penalty for the offense.

• Increased Penalties on Youth Gun Crimes (A.3167, Reilly) — Prevents the removal of an adolescent offender to family court in cases where the defendant possessed a loaded firearm. 

• Non-Resident Sex Offenders (A.4997, Simpson) — Requires non-resident visitor sex offenders and registered sex offenders to register under the Sex Offender Registration Act when temporarily residing within the state, among other provisions.

Instead of advancing our legislation, Assembly Democrats approved “Elder Parole” and “Fair and Timely Parole” bills, which ultimately will lead to the release of additional prisoners from prison. If those bills were to become law, Payton Gendron, for example, who killed 10 people and injured three others in a racist attack at a Tops Supermarket in Buffalo, will be eligible for parole when he turns 55 years old — despite being sentenced to life without parole. The idea of putting away dangerous criminals for life is on track to become an impossibility in New York.

It has never been clearer that the legislative agenda of Albany Democrats prioritizes incarcerated criminals ahead of innocent victims. Despite years of public outcry, there has been no sincere effort to restore order to communities or institute policies that fix our compromised criminal-justice system. With several crime-prevention bills rejected as pro-criminal bills move forward, New Yorkers were given another example of the dangerous agenda of one-party rule.      

William (Will) A. Barclay, 54, Republican, is the New York Assembly minority leader and represents the 120th New York Assembly District, which encompasses all of Oswego County, as well as parts of Jefferson and Cayuga counties.

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