While even some Democrats are calling for immediate legislative action to address rising crime, Gov. Kathy Hochul acted Monday to help the people getting arrested feel better about themselves.
Hochul signed into law a bill passed by the Democrat-controlled Albany legislature that replaces the word “inmate” with “incarcerated person” in state law.
“For too long, we as a society have thought of incarcerated individuals as less than people. The use of the word ‘inmate’ further dehumanizes and demoralizes them,” state Sen. Gustavo Rivera (D-Bronx) said of the bill he sponsored with Jeffrion Aubry (D-Queens), which Hochul signed into law Monday.
But Hochul’s latest effort to make the state more politically correct has her critics arguing she has got some seriously misplaced priorities considering how shootings spiked 13.4% last month alongside a 34.3% murder increase compared to July 2021.
“Another ‘Woke’ Criminals 1st Law supported by our Governor instead of doing her job & protecting the public from rampant crime,” state Sen. Jim Tedisco (R-Schenectady) tweeted Monday afternoon.
“Welcome to Democrat-controlled New York … Where the “incarcerated individuals” are running the asylum,” Michael Fraser, a spokesman for Assembly Minority Leader William Barclay said in a tweet.
The criticism comes amid growing calls from Republicans, and some Democrats like Mayor Eric Adams, for Hochul to beckon state lawmakers back to Albany to overhaul controversial bail laws blamed for fueling rising crime.
Hochul has rejected those efforts while arguing that she wants to wait until next year — after the Novto assess the effectiveness of changes made in the state budget approved in April, which she says gives judges enough leeway to jail people who threaten public safety.
“What I want to start seeing is the implementation of those laws at all levels,” Hochul told reporters in New York City while continuing to blame judges for not leveraging current laws enough.
With polls showing the vast majority of New Yorkers concerned about crime, Republican gubernatorial nominee Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Suffolk) has made bail reform a top target ahead of the Nov. 8 election against Hochul.
“And as far as all the inmates beating the crap out of correctional officers across New York, this pathetically weak Governor doesn’t do anything but make the job of being an officer harder as she enthusiastically puts their safety at greater risk. REPEAL the HALT Act!” Zeldin tweeted Monday in response to the new law, referencing limits on solitary confinement previously signed into law by Hochul.
The new law on “incarcerated individuals,” which follows an effort begun under her predecessor, is part of a broader effort on public safety that Hochul has argued will bear fruit for New Yorkers as she urges more patience with current bail laws.
“In New York, we’re doing everything in our power to show that justice and safety can go hand-in-hand,” Hochul said in a press release Monday.
Another measure signed into law by the governor Monday aims to help parolees avoid additional prison time by widening the hours that they can attend required community supervision programs.
Recent political scandals involving Democrats like ex-Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin, who resigned months ago amid a federal bribery scandal, have some conservatives thinking members of Hochul’s own party are who benefits most from her ongoing reform efforts.
“In an effort to avoid stigma, “justice-involved individuals” will now be referred to as ‘Democrats,” Conservative radio host Bob Lonsberry quipped via Twitter.
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