The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines hypocrite as “a person who acts in a way that goes against what he or she claims to believe or feel.”
Kerry Kennedy Cuomo, the daughter of the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy, spoke out last week against parole for Sirhan Sirhan, the murderer of her father. The former Mrs. Cuomo said, “Sirhan Sirhan killed our father. He also shot five other people that night. He hasn’t apologized, taken responsibility for killing our father, or for the other five people nor has he shown any remorse over the past 53 years.”
Bravo! But how to square her views with her leadership of the drive to release the killers of other fathers from jail without even making them post bail?
Ms. Kennedy, the former wife of deposed New York State governor Andrew Cuomo, led the push, in 2019 to abolish cash bail. She succeeded in the woke wave that gathered momentum in the wake of the murder of George Floyd in early 2020. Bail was eliminated in New York State entirely and severely limited in other blue states.
Kerry Kennedy, the president of the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Organization, proclaimed that “access to justice depends on whether you can afford bail. The majority of people incarcerated in the notoriously violent Rikers Island [New York City’s detention center] are behind bars for the crime of being too poor.”
It’s true that 700,000 Americans are now in jail without having been convicted of the crime for which they are being held. But letting them back on the streets just punishes the innocent.
Those freed by the law Kennedy pushed are not nice people. Eleven percent are in jail for murder, attempted murder or manslaughter; 20 percent are in for robbery or burglary; and another 25 percent face charges involving weapons, felony assault, sale of drugs, or rape or other sexual offenses.
Liberals like to say that the imprisoned are often there for minor offenses like sneaking onto the subway or smoking marijuana. But, on average, only two people on any given day are in detention at Riker’s for jumping the turnstile on the subway and only one is there for pot possession.
Seth Barron, associate editor of City Journal and project director of the NYC Initiative at the Manhattan Institute, notes that most Riker’s inmates are there “because they’re serving out a sentence, are ineligible for bail because of outstanding warrants, or are awaiting trial for a serious crime–not because they can’t afford bail.
Seventy-five percent of Rikers Inmates have been there before, often several times during the same year. Once they are released, without bail, they rarely show up for trial and are usually only apprehended when they are arrested for something else and the bench warrant for their re-arrest pops up. Often, they quickly use their freedom to get even with those whose testimony fingered them and put them behind bars in the first place.
Kennedy announced — and then abandoned — a program to raise money for what it called a “Mass Bail Out” to end “wealth-based detention.”
Her group suspended its operations after it met the bail for 18-year-old Rickem Parker one week after the eight-time arrestee was captured on video brutally beating a correction officer. Parker skipped bail and was a no-show for his court date.
After bail was eliminated by the New York State Legislature over the summer of 2019, the population of Rikers fell from 20,000 to 15,000 in nine months. The percent of Rikers’ inmates held without bail dropped from 70% in July 2019 to 40% in January of 2020. But the newly freed inmates were busy during the interim as violent crime soared by 22.5 percent.
The public outrage was such that the Legislature reversed itself and re-imposed bail requirements for “persistent felons.” Incarceration went back up to 60%.
But this failed experiment did not diminish Kerry Kennedy’s ardor to release the killers of other people’s fathers as the Sirhan parole hearings draw near.
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