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Albany GOP blames Gov. Andrew Cuomo for spike in crime

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ALBANY — Republican lawmakers blamed Gov. Andrew Cuomo for “lighting the match” that has triggered a recent spike in crime by signing criminal justice reforms championed by Democrats, including bail reform.

“The governor said the three biggest issues facing New York City, this is Governor Cuomo: crime, crime and crime,” seethed Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt (R-Lockport) during an Albany press conference Tuesday, repeating the governor, who declared a full pandemic recovery is impossible without cleaning up the streets and subways.

“Ironically, he apparently doesn’t know what the solution is or is unaware of why that is happening. It’s happening because of laws that he signed,” he added, pointing to changes to the bail system made over the last several years.

“Where did the smoke come from? Governor Cuomo… you lit the match,” added state Sen. Dan Stec (R-Queensbury). 

Within the last few months the state has seen several violent attacks on the New York City subway system, shootings in well-traveled pedestrian areas like Times Square and a rise in hate crimes.

Senate Republicans unveiled a package of bills that would tighten up review of the state parole board, the latest rollout of their pro-law enforcement agenda.

One measure would permit victim impact statements to submit video recordings to the entire three-person board. Under the current system, crime victims or family members who lost loved ones and oppose an inmate’s inmate typically appeal to just one panel member. 

But Democratic leaders like Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie have said legislation that would expedite the parole process for incarcerated individuals remains a top priority with less than two weeks until session ends on June 10.

One “elder parole” measure would make it easier for inmates ages 55 and older who have been in prison at least 15 years to gain parole. 

Another called the “less is more act” would strip non-criminal, technical violations — like being late or missing an appointment with a parole officer — from being a reason to mar an individual’s record. 

Criminal justice reform advocates are pushing to pass the “clean slate bill” that would seal and expunge old convictions for individuals who have completed their sentences, while another measure would end qualified immunity privileges for members of law enforcement. It would amend the state’s civil rights law, that critics argue currently protects officers from lawsuits.

Cuomo senior advisor and communications director Rich Azzopardi hit back at the GOP’s criticisms in a statement.

“There are many real problems dealing with crime that require real solutions but trotting out the same craven, debunked and discredited Trump talking points on cash bail reform isn’t among them,” he said.

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