De Blasio's Now Giving Gift Cards and Free Transportation to Inmates Getting Out of Jail


On the morning of a machete attack on a rabbi’s house during a Hanukkah celebration in the New York City suburb of Monsey, it was revealed that the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio had ordered New York’s new bail reform requirements to be implemented early.

How were these two things connected?

Well, those bail requirements — which don’t come into force statewide until the start of the New Year on Wednesday — mean that suspects in non-sexual assaults where the victim wasn’t injured are released without bail.

That includes assaults with a hate-crime element — including a rash of anti-Semitic attacks around the city during the Hanukkah period.

On Saturday morning, a woman who stands accused of attacking three Hasidic women in Brooklyn while yelling “f— you, Jews!” was set free on her own recognizance.

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The day before, a woman who swung her purse at an Orthodox Jewish mother in the same borough while yelling “You f—ing Jew, the end is coming for you!” was also released without bail.

Even given these horrible instances, I understand that de Blasio was following the spirit of the law, if not the letter. The problem with the spirit is that his city has seen a rash of anti-Semitic crimes during 2019, which has seemed to culminate in a massive spike at the end of the year.

Knowing the hate-crime loophole in the new bail regulations — a loophole that, in the wake of these incidents, will likely be closed — why wouldn’t de Blasio instruct prosecutors and law enforcement to ignore the new rule when it came to hate crime charges until the moment they had to acquiesce?

Well, you might not be surprised to learn that this fits into a larger agenda for de Blasio in terms of how to treat arrested and convicted criminals — one that includes providing them with free MetroCards, gift debit cards and cellphones.

Do you think this program will be successful?

The New York Post confirmed, in a Friday report, that prisoners leaving Rikers Island jail were given what amount to freebie bags.

“On Friday, The Post saw several workers stationed at a table in front of the Rikers visitation building,” the outlet reported.

“Since Tuesday, one said, between five and 50 discharged prisoners a day were given seven-day MetroCards worth $32 and two, $25 Visa gift cards.

“Next week, the swag will include a prepaid Metro by T-Mobile flip phone, the worker said.”

The MetroCard is used to ride New York City’s public transportation system, including subways and buses.

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This isn’t de Blasio’s only policy that’s come under fire as of late. Obviously, one of the pluses for cash bail was the fact that it helped ensure that defendants showed up to trial. Now that this inducement is gone, how can the city make sure of this? According to the Post, the answer is to offer them New York Mets tickets!

Many years ago, I remember law enforcement using the pretense of a Washington Redskins tickets giveaway to lure a group of fugitives into a venue so they could be arrested. Now the inducement is working the other way: Won’t you please show up for your court date? We’ll give you Mets tickets.

“In a world where [we] want speedier trials, if small incentives are part of what actually makes it work, then that’s a smart policy,” de Blasio said during a November news conference shortly after the story broke.

“It’s not something we developed, it’s something that has been worked on by experts over time and proven to work, proven to be a good investment,” he added.

“I think people should ask a real basic question: ‘What’s going to get trials to happen on a regular basis, speedily? What’s going to help us mete out justice the way it’s supposed to be done? What’s going to make things work in a new reality?” de Blasio said. “That’s all that matters to me.”

He declined to mention a price: “I’m not aware of the specifics of the budgeting and how it works and where the funds come from,” the mayor said.

Law enforcement sources weren’t quite so sure this was going to work.

“It’s a sad state of affairs when the city bends over backward to reward criminals instead of protecting the victims of their crimes,” one source told the Post. “What’s next? Free limo service back home?”

Don’t give him any ideas.

Another noted that “2020 is going to be the year of the perp.” As opposed to 2019?

There reportedly were some complaints from the prisoners receiving the goodie bags, such as a 27-year-old Bronx resident identified as “Jesse” who had served 11 months in Rikers for assault. Overall he liked the program, but he saw room for improvement.

“It’s a debit. No cash. But it’s still good,” Jesse said of the cards. Gee, and I wonder why they might have thought it a bad idea to give the money in cash. I’m sure that there has to be a reason but I can’t think of one.

De Blasio’s office also defended the program, saying that “with essential resources needed to survive is critical to ensuring the safety of themselves and others, and maintaining our status as the safest big city in America.”

As infuriating as this is, remember that the bail reform program was New York state’s. The fact that New York City went above and beyond is hardly surprising when you consider we’re dealing with Bill de Blasio here.

When it comes to releasing hate-crime suspects without bail after a wave of anti-Semitic attacks when you don’t necessarily need to, that’s a problem of a different magnitude.

Sure, all of these are symptoms of a larger problem. Some symptoms are more serious than others, however; there’s a difference between coughing and coughing up blood.

The massive shrug emoji being thrown up by the mayor’s administration when it came to keeping these individuals behind bars for as long as possible before their trial, that’s a canary in a mine shaft that we all ought to look at with genuine alarm.

More alarming? Up until a few months ago, there were people who thought this man should be our next president. Not many, mind you — but enough that the thought should send shivers down the spine of every American.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture


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