Not only have numerous people been murdered or maimed as a result of violent criminals being released without bail in New York, there is now the first casualty from the other horrible provision of the jailbreak law.
On Wednesday, 36-year-old Wilmer Maldonado was found bludgeoned to death behind an abandoned home in Nassau County, Long Island. Who was Maldanado? A victim of and a witness to a heinous MS-13 gang beating that local police now believe got him killed. Why? Because thanks to the new bail law, not only are violent gangsters out on the streets, their defense lawyers have almost instant access to the contact information and identities of the victims and witnesses.
As the New York Post reports, it’s almost a certainty that this new law got Maldanado killed, because he had lived safely for over a year since the initial attack. He was a witness to a pack of nine MS-13 gang members beating two boys in October 2018, when he intervened and was himself severely beaten by the group. His identity was protected until December 2019 by a court-issued protective order. But pursuant to the new law, at that time, his information was turned over to the MS-13 suspects’ defense. Now he’s dead.
“This man is dead because we didn’t do enough … and this law is not helping us,” lamented Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder at a press conference. Although police have no definitive proof yet that the information was directly passed on from the lawyer to the suspects, Ryder said there was intimidation of the witness leading up to his death, including an attempted beating just one day before he was found murdered.
This is criminal justice “reform” laid bare before our eyes. There’s nothing progressive, enlightened, or reform-minded about it. It’s a perverted movement that weights criminal rights well beyond those of innocent victims, and its results are barbaric.
Any prosecutor will tell you that part of the reason why, contrary to the premise of the political elites, we have an under-conviction problem is because it’s so hard to get witnesses and victims to testify. Witness intimidation is already a growing problem. Yet 100 percent of the criminal justice “reforms” are about strengthening criminal rights instead of victim rights.
“As it is, we often struggle to convince these witnesses to share their truth with law enforcement for fear of retaliation, especially in our most violent areas,” said Sandra Doorley, district attorney of Monroe County, N.Y., in a statement to Blaze Media. “Victim and witness intimidation are more frequent than the public knows.”
Doorley, an outspoken critic of New York’s new pro-criminal laws, explained how the requirement to turn over the names and contact information of witnesses to the defense within fifteen days is already wreaking havoc on prosecutions even in her upstate New York county. “A witness to a violent shooting was completely prepared to testify against the defendant until the witness was told that her grand jury testimony and contact information would be released to the defendant. Afraid for her life because of the defendant’s violent past and history with retaliation, the witness became frantic and requested that this case did not move forward, stating that the witness would not testify in grand jury.”
In that particular case, her office was able to secure an order of protection and convince the witness to testify. “We may not be so fortunate the next time, and a violent criminal may be left in the streets,” warned the veteran prosecutor.
The brilliant malevolence of New York’s law is the symbiotic relationship of the two provisions. The abolish-bail provision ensures that nearly every criminal is out on the streets pending trial. The disclosure provision arms the criminals with all the identification information of their targets. Were they behind bars, it would be a smaller problem, but leftists ensured that the two provisions would create a dynamic where not only are more crimes committed, but it will be difficult to convict them even for the first crime, because nobody will want to testify. That is not a bug of their “reform;” it’s a feature: designed to reduce the prison population at all costs.
We see these stories of witness intimidation every day. Last month, Jordan Randolph, 40, who had 12 prior criminal convictions, including charges for numerous assaults, robbery, drugs, and three DWIs, was arrested for not having a court-ordered ignition interlock device in his car. Yet the judge said he was forced to release Randolph without any bond, despite five prior failures to appear in court. Less than two weeks later, Randolph was allegedly drunk driving when he slammed into Jonathan Flores-Maldonado, fatally injuring him. According to the New York Post, Long Island officials say he was threatening witnesses.
During the arraignment, Randolph reportedly bragged, “I’ll be out tomorrow.” In court, Suffolk County assistant district attorney Jacob DeLauter said, “As Jonathan Flores was left taking his last breaths and dying, this defendant was hurling expletives at both officers and EMTs who were trying to render him aid.” DeLauter also testified that Randolph “stated to an EMT that when he gets out, he’ll come find her.”
Indeed, he was released from jail again the very next day without bail!
Two weeks ago, a man and his girlfriend were driving in the Bronx when they were rear-ended by a vehicle and one of the occupants got out of the car and punched him. Once the victim found out that he and his girlfriend had to turn over their names and addresses to the defense, he dropped all charges. “I don’t care if these guys get my address, I don’t want them to have her address,” said the man in an interview with SILive.com, asking that his name not be published.
Now this violent assailant is out on the streets, completely undeterred from victimizing more people.
Who will finally push real criminal justice reforms for victims, as Reagan envisioned? Well, we found that man in Donald Trump, who advocated for victims of crime his entire life. Then, we were unlucky enough to get, along with Trump, Jared Kushner, who has an obsession with leniencies for criminals. At some point, he needs to be asked, now that he successfully passed a “First Step” and a “Second Step” for criminals, isn’t it time to direct his bleeding heart toward victims of crime, law enforcement, and public safety? Where is our first step act?
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.