New York State Senator Tom O’Mara
Siena College’s latest poll identified the most important questions on the minds of New York voters ahead of the November election. Unsurprisingly, crime emerged as the top concern in a poll released last week, identified by more than 24% of respondents. A combination of economic problems also topped the list.
According to the new Siena poll, “A quarter of voters say crime will be the most important issue in determining which candidate gets their support for governor in November. While taxes/fiscal responsibility finished a distant second, identified by 9%, all economic issues combined – including jobs, inflation and the cost of living – are also identified by a quarter of voters as the biggest problem. most important.
In short, New York State residents feel insecure and fearful of making ends meet. It is an alarming snapshot of the current state of our state.
Yet the same day the Siena poll was released, the Democratic majority in the state Senate began pushing their next steps in what has been a long and dismal series of pro-crime actions wreaking havoc. in our streets and in our neighborhoods.
This Albany Democratic mindset, which has become firmly entrenched at the highest levels of state government, is a big part of why New York is defined, in too many places, as a state in prey to crime. It’s just still hard to understand.
Specifically, the Democrats on the Senate Codes Committee, of which I am a member, have seen fit to begin proposing two bills which, if passed into law, will serve to expunge criminal records from public view and will not offer no protection for victims of crime. or law-abiding citizens.
To rub our faces a little more, their action came as the state (and the nation) began observing National Crime Victims Rights Week – a week that is supposed to be dedicated to learning more about victimization. and the effect it has on individuals, families, friends and the community, and to promote laws, policies and programs to help victims of crime.
A bill now seen by Democrats in Albany as a priority for enactment this session is commonly referred to as the “Clean Slate” bill (S1553C). This would seal criminal records seven years after the end of a sentence – after three years for misdemeanors – and eventually erase them from the record altogether.
A news editorial described the proposed action this way: “It would erase 2.3 million convictions from the record as if they never happened.” It’s one thing to give someone a second chance after they’ve served their sentence and been crime-free for several years. In fact, New York State law already contains provisions that allow this in a limited way.
That’s not enough for some, though. As they did with the disastrous and dangerous bail and discovery reform enacted in 2019, extremely lenient parole policies and a host of other pro-criminal and anti-law and order initiatives. , these Democrats in Albany continue to go too far.
They continue to push for a sweeping overhaul of our criminal justice and public safety system, to the point where many New Yorkers, as evidenced by the Siena poll, no longer recognize or agree with the direction in which he directs himself.
They keep putting more and more New Yorkers at risk and worried about safety in the places where they live and work.
A second bill (S5518A) approved by the Senate Codes Committee last week would go so far as to create a separate new bureaucracy within the state’s Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), which they would call the “Delisting Office”. to specifically help facilitate the sealing and expunging of criminal convictions.
Needless to say, I joined my fellow Republicans on the committee in voting no and reacted to the moves this way: “Another day in Albany, another set of pro-crime policies pushed by the party regime. unique. New York is facing a crime crisis the likes of which we have not seen in years. The crisis, caused by the Democrats’ cashless bail and other soft-on-crime policies, could be reversed today if they stopped promoting a radical, pro-crime agenda. Today’s actions prove once again that Democrats care more about protecting violent criminals and dangerous individuals than about victims and law-abiding New Yorkers.
Since the start of the current legislative session, our Senate Republican Conference has called for a much different approach, one that would restore a strong commitment to law and order, restore confidence in public safety and refocus on communities that are safer. sure.
Among many provisions, our Take Back New York program, released earlier this year, would:
- say no to what has become an increasingly widespread “defund the police” movement and, instead, reinvest in law enforcement;
- ending cashless bail, restoring judicial discretion and rejecting proposals such as the widespread expunging of criminal records;
- fix what are clearly discovery and “speedy trial” laws that have only served to establish a system of revolving doors for repeat offenders and violent repeat offenders;
- refocus a parole process on one that prioritizes the protection and rights of victims of crime and their families, and will never release the most violent criminals, including cops and child killers , in the street ; and
- investing in proven mental health and other services to ensure people struggling with addictions, homelessness and mental illness get the help they need.
There are and will continue to be legitimate debates about the root causes of crime and lawlessness, and what the government’s response can and should be.
It is not in dispute at this time, in my opinion and in the opinion of many others, that the crime and lawlessness is spiraling out of control in this state.
The government’s response should not be to enact laws that embolden the criminal element of society or to make our criminal justice and public safety system more lenient, permissive and open to abuse.
Unfortunately, and dangerously, Democrats in Albany seem willing to continue taking that risk.
New York State Senator Tom O’Mara represents the 58th District, which includes Yates, Steuben, Schuyler and Chemung counties and part of Tompkins County.