Monopoly Board Jail Space and 'Get Out of Jail Free' Card

The brave new bail-free world was on full display recently in New York City. And if this is a sign of things to come we’re all in trouble. Actually, it’s not a sign of things to come. It’s a sign of things that are already here thanks to the efforts of the anti-bail bonds (and now-defunct) Arnold Foundation and their myriad enablers in Albany and elsewhere.

No Bail, No Bondsman? What Could Go Wrong?

The incident we’re referring above to took place in the days leading up to New Years. A New York City police officer on foot patrol in Brooklyn encountered a man sitting on a busy sidewalk allegedly drinking alcohol. The officer in question and his partner approached the man and told him to move on. The man then stood up and - as clearly seen on a video shot by the police bodycam - sucker punched the officer before leaping on him. The two then fell to the ground where a protracted fight/wrestling match ensued.

The cop’s partner attempted to reason with the assailant, telling him repeatedly to stop. But the man - 40 year old Steven Haynes of Brooklyn - ignored the pleas. Finally, the partner called for backup and within about 30 seconds other officers arrived on scene and separated the two. Haynes was taken into custody and charged with:

  • Assaulting a police officer
  • Resisting arrest
  • Obstructing government administration
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Refusing an order to disperse
  • And drinking in public

The most serious of those charges - assaulting a police officer - is a felony that carries a potential sentence of up to 15 years in jail. Resisting arrest could bring another year in jail. So, any sane person would have to conclude that when this creep appeared before a judge he was going to have the book thrown at him. He’d either be held while awaiting trial or have a bail assigned that would reflect the gravity of his offense.

So, what did the judge do when Haynes appeared before him? Released him on the spot without bail.

What? Some thought that the judge’s leniency was perhaps a result of the man having a spotless record prior to this assault. If that were the case you might, might, be able to justify letting him go. But a bit of digging reveals that Haynes had been arrested 24 times on a variety of charges prior to this altercation. So there was no justification for letting him go scot free. The judge’s office later explained that the release was made necessary by soon-to-be implemented bail reform measures signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo earlier in the year.

Police we’re understandably outraged. The NYPBA President Pat Lynch tweeted this statement following the release: "When will our elected leaders admit that the streets are out of control? The perps know they can sucker punch a cop and escape with no consequences. And cops know that City Hall will not back them up. The situation is getting more dangerous by the day."

A Community Suffers

Police weren’t the only ones who were outraged at the state’s decision to release Haynes. Two days after being released he was back at the corner of Livingston and Court streets where the assault occurred drinking shots on the sidewalk, harassing passersby and making it difficult for local shops to conduct business.

The manager of a local Italian restaurant couldn’t believe it. “Three hours, he was back in the same spot.” said manager Michael Vitiello. “He’s a celebrity now.” Vitello was referring to the fact that the NYPD had assigned a police officer to stand nearby and monitor Hayne’s activity. And while that’s all very well and good bail reform was supposed to save taxpayers money. Right? How much is it costing taxpayers to have an officer shadow Haynes all day every day? As Vitiello said “They could have locked him up… Now he’s back on the street causing problems.”

Prepare for the Worst

On January 1, 2020 New York’s new bail reform law takes effect. In the lead up to that New York City has released nearly 900 people who claim they couldn’t afford bail. As we mentioned earlier, Haynes was also released because the judge felt he would only be released on January 1st anyway. So what was the point of putting him behind bars or assigning him bail? Across New York State communities are battening down the hatches because on January 1 another 3,800 people currently in jail are set to be released en masse.

Politicians, prosecutors and law enforcement have attempted to persuade lawmakers to postpone implementation of the new law until it can be changed to take the interests of law abiding citizens into account. But Governor Cuomo has stated his steadfast opposition to a delay, coming down firmly on the side of the Steven Haynes’ of the world. Prosecutors have pointed out that many of the 900 or so people New York City released in December in the lead up to January 1st have already been rearrested for other crimes. Proving only too well that eliminating accountability in the system only leads to more crime.

The anti-bail cabal has made repeated efforts to impose their particular brand of chaos on Adams County, Broomfield County, Weld County and Denver in recent years. And will no doubt try again soon. Unless you want the Steven Haynes’ of the world taking over your sidewalks you’d be wise to show opponents of bail bonding the door.