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De Blasio calls for stricter criteria for bail, diversion after fatal shooting of NYPD officer

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks at

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks at a news conference as he and other leaders call for reforms to state law on bail and diversion programs, Friday, Oct. 23, 2015. Credit: Craig Ruttle

Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday said that he wants judges to consider an accused criminal's potential for dangerousness when ruling whether to grant bail, allow a prison alternative like rehab, or lock up the person.

The push to change state law, which bars judges from considering public safety, came three days after a convicted drug dealer who had been granted bail and admission to a prison-diversion program fatally shot a plainclothes NYPD cop in Harlem.

"Some people are irredeemable. I'm a progressive person, I'm a humanitarian, but I can also tell you, some people are irredeemable, and unless they are treated very, very differently, they pose a danger to our society, and we have to look that in the face," de Blasio said at a news conference at City Hall.

The policy would cover innocent-until-proven-guilty defendants who have been convicted of no crime. Judges could factor in conduct for which there has been no conviction.

In a recent drug case, a judge allowed Tyrone Howard, the man accused of killing Officer Randolph Holder, to enter treatment instead of prison. The judge cited Howard's addiction to the drug PCP. Howard, who didn't complete the program, had a lengthy arrest record but no violent felony convictions. Howard is suspected of an earlier shooting but not indicted.

Any legislation must be greenlighted by Albany, which resisted such proposals in the past. New York is one of three states -- Missouri and Mississippi are the others -- that doesn't include dangerousness in bail decisions.

De Blasio's proposal mirrors one by the state's chief judge, Jonathan Lippman. In addition to seeking consideration of public safety, the men want to make it easier for low-level arrestees to avoid pretrial jail.

In an interview with Newsday, Lippman called current bail laws "ridiculous," "unfair," "unsafe," "absurd," "broken" and "totally backwards."

"They're unsafe because public safety isn't considered," Lippman said, and "unfair because you have people who don't have money in their pockets . . . stay in jail when they're not a threat."

The Nassau County Bar Association's chairman of the criminal law and procedure committee Andrew Monteleone of Mineola said the dangerousness proposal for a legally innocent person is "kind of putting the cart before the horse in the sense that the person isn't convicted of anything."

"What is that movie?" Monteleone said. "'Minority Report.' "


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