Critics Say Newly Arrested Paroled Criminals Evade Jail Under Hochul’s Reform Law
By: Hellen Zaboulani
Last September, Gov. Kathy Hochul signed the “Less is More” act, aimed at improving justice and safety in city jails, and keeping former prisoners from returning to jail. Critics say that this law has helped paroled criminals commit new crimes and be arrested without fear of being sent back to jail.
As per the NY Post, while the law puts strict limits on parolees who commit technical violations, like failing to show up for a hearing or failing a drug test – it is flawed in that it also offers new protections to the paroled suspects when they are arrested for a new crime. “Before, if someone was on parole and they got arrested, they would have to go back to jail and finish their sentence. Now parolees aren’t afraid of getting arrested and going back to jail,” complained one Queens cop. “This is another example of progressive politicians taking another tool out of our toolbox”.
Critics say that since the reform was enacted, numerous high-profile crimes were committed by suspects on parole, who were freed once again despite dangerous new crimes committed. For example, in August, convicted sex-offender Bui Van Phu, who was on lifetime parole, was accused of sucker-punching a stranger in the Bronx and putting him in a coma. The convicted felon was still let out with no bail due to “Less is More” reform, whereas in the past he would have automatically been put in jail for violating his parole. This is because the new law now requires a warrant for a suspect who broke parole, with a hearing required within a specific timeframe. Hochul herself had interfered in Phu’s infamous case, pushing authorities to issue a warrant for the parole violation.
“It is extremely hard to get a warrant,” said Wayne Spence, a parole officer and president of the Public Employees Federation, the second-largest state-employee union in NY, which is working to make changes to the law. He said politicians should study how many parolees commit crimes today, compared to the years before the reform was enacted.
In another example, at the end of September, a Queens woman was savagely beaten in a subway station by vagrant Waheed Foster. Foster had been arrested in August for breaking his parole on two counts– alleged criminal possession of stolen property and criminal mischief. Still the judge had let him loose, allowing him to carry out the vicious beating which left the woman’s eyesight in jeopardy.
The state’s controversial bail-reform laws, passed in 2019, and “Less is More” work together helping criminals, said defense lawyer Mark Bederow. “Guys who a couple of years ago unquestionably would’ve been held, get let out,” Bederow told The Post. “Do I think that guys know that? Of course they know that. … The same way they know if they commit certain offenses, they know the likelihood bail will be set is less.”
A representative for Gov. Hochul, responded to the Post, saying the governor continues to work with law enforcement to “improve the criminal justice system, combat violence, and strengthen public safety.” “Under Governor Hochul’s leadership, DOCCS has worked closely with law enforcement and continued to hold individuals accountable when they violate parole, including revoking parole when warranted and issuing 377 warrants for parole violations in September alone,” said rep Avi Small in a statement.