New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has lashed out at the state’s criminal justice system, blaming rising crime rates in the Big Apple on a dramatically reduced number of court decisions, which he labeled “unacceptable.”
A court spokesman responded by accusing the mayor of “gaslighting” the public in an attempt to shift blame for the crime epidemic.
During his daily remote press conference on Monday, De Blasio revealed that there were only 18 trial sentences in the five boroughs in the first half of 2021, compared to 405 in the same time in 2019.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio revealed Monday that there were only 18 verdicts in the first half of 2020, compared to 405 in 2019
De Blasio blamed the city’s increased crime rates on the criminal justice system
The mayor said courts are lagging behind other institutions in reopening at full capacity, despite offers of help from the administration
“That’s not good enough,” the mayor said, after praising the New York City Police Department for making a record number of gun-related arrests and highlighting the work of community activists.
Lucian Chaifen, Director of Communications at the Office of Court Administration, responded to De Blasio’s harsh criticism by accusing the mayor of finger-pointing.
“Once again, the mayor shows his blatant lack of understanding of the criminal justice process in this state,” Chaifen said in a statement. “His gaslighting rhetoric about judicial operations is an attempt to shift the discussion about public safety.”
The spokesperson argued that the justice system has been back to full strength since May, and reprimanded prosecutors and defense lawyers for being unwilling to try their cases.
Chaifen nevertheless acknowledged that due to social distancing requirements, only three trials can now be held in each province at a time, compared to up to a dozen before the pandemic, as New York Post reported.
State courts outside New York City issued 118 sentences in the first eight months of the year.
A spokesperson for the justice system lunged at de Blasio, accusing him of using “gaslighting” rhetoric to shift blame
The latest figures from the NYPD show that shootings, rapes and assaults are all happening
“Whether it’s something as horrific as murder or gun violence, you need a culture of consequences,” de Blasio said. “The dysfunctional justice system is having a bigger impact than almost any other factor right now.
“The lack of such consequences for a whole range of crimes undermines public safety.”
He added: “If someone has committed a crime against a fellow New Yorker and they never see a consequence, or they think it’s so far off that it won’t impact their lives, it gives them a license. ‘
According to the latest crime statistics from the NYPD, shootings were up 5.3 percent for the week of August 23-29, compared to the same time last year.
Rapes and crimes also increased by about 5 percent, but the homicide rate decreased by 1.3 percent compared to August 2020.
De Blasio argued that violent crimes go unpunished by the courts, which he labeled as ‘unacceptable’
De Blasio accused the city courts of lagging behind other institutions in reopening at full capacity.
‘We have many companies back at full strength. In the areas where we have our new mandates – indoor dining, entertainment – they are back to full strength. Why is the legal system the outlier?’ asked de Blasio. “We need to have our criminal justice system fully operational to protect New Yorkers. Period. Anything less than that is unacceptable.’
The mayor also claimed that his government has continuously offered to help the courts ramp up their operations by providing additional space and assistance with vaccination, “and we are still not getting a satisfactory result,” he said.
Lisa Ohta, president of the Association of Lawyers for Legal Aid, said: NY1 that while the pandemic has delayed some investigations, there is little evidence that they have led to increased crime rates.
“It’s the minor offenses, the violations, the non-violent crimes that have been delayed more than other things, as they should be, because these are not things that put people at serious risk,” Ohta said.