ALBANY — Criminal justice advocates are slamming Rockland County Sheriff Louis Falco for “weaponizing” the Chanukah attack in Monsey to call for changes to the state’s new bail reforms going into effect later this week.
Falco urged Gov. Cuomo on Sunday to reconsider new laws limiting cash bail for certain crimes hours after five people were stabbed in the anti-Semitic attack over the weekend.
Advocates criticized Falco, a Democrat, for his comments, which were echoed by Republican lawmakers and other law enforcement officials who have railed against the reforms.
“The fact that the Rockland County Sheriff is weaponizing this tragedy to call for revision of the new bail law before it has even gone into effect is shameful political posturing,” said Erin George, civil rights campaign director for Citizen Action of New York.
The controversial changes, set to take effect Jan. 1, will end cash bail for misdemeanors and many non-violent felonies.
“I honestly believe that our Legislature needs to go back and start looking at some of these things,” Falco said as he stood next to the governor on Sunday. “I think reforms are good, but I do think some of them have to be looked at to go even further where he wants to go with his domestic terrorism stuff.”
Grafton Thomas was ordered held on $5 million bail after being arraigned on five counts of attempted murder and one count of burglary. The machete-wielding 37-year-old allegedly entered Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg’s home around 9:50 p.m. Saturday and stabbed five people.
The charges filed against Thomas, whose family said has a history of mental problems, would not have been impacted by the bail reforms.
But Senate Minority Leader John Flanagan (R-Suffolk) linked the attack to a recent spate of violent crimes across the state and issued a warning that things will get worse under the new system.
“In two days, the Democrats give a get out of jail free card to 90 percent of criminals across this state and already we are seeing the devastating real life impact this holiday season as some of their so-called ‘reforms’ are being slowly introduced into our communities,” he said in a statement released Sunday.
Flanagan cited the release of suspects responsible for a string of anti-Semitic attacks in Brooklyn and a fatal Christmas Eve hit-and-run involving an unlicensed driver who received no bail as he placed blame on Democrats.
“These holiday horrors have only hurt the victims of these crimes and New Yorkers,” Flanagan said. “The criminals coddled by Democrats walk away to commit these crimes again or to inspire others who see there’s no punishment.”
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