There are plenty of proponents of New York state’s new bail reform law — which eliminated cash bail for most charges that aren’t violent felonies — but perhaps none quite as effusive as Charles Barry.
“Bail reform, it’s lit!” Barry told reporters in New York City on Thursday.
“It’s the Democrats! The Democrats know me and the Republicans fear me. You can’t touch me! I can’t be stopped!”
You may wonder who Charles Barry is. A congressman you haven’t heard of? Nope. Some kind of crank state politician? Not a terrible guess, given there are some real nutters in that department, but no.
A New York City man who’s been arrested 139 times for various offenses, including six times since Democrat-enacted statewide bail reform kicked in on Jan. 1? That’s a bit more like it.
According to the New York Daily News, Barry is a serial thief on Gotham’s subways. He was arrested (again) Thursday but released Saturday in Manhattan Criminal Court.
As of right now (and the number seems to be like that national debt clock, so who knows if it’s accurate as of this week), Barry has six felonies, 87 misdemeanors and 21 missed court appearances on his chest.
And who would have guessed, given Barry’s interest in bail reform? You would think this was a very politically active gentleman with considered opinions on the topics of the day.
“I’m famous! I take $200, $300 a day of your money, cracker! You can’t stop me!” Barry said to a reporter as he was led out of NYPD Transit District 1 in the Columbus Circle area of Manhattan on Thursday.
He was just as restrained when he was released Saturday and asked again about bail reform.
“It’s a great thing. It’s a beautiful thing,” he said. “They punked people out for bulls— crimes.”
This time, Barry was allegedly punked for jumping a subway turnstile in Penn Station. All right, fair enough — that’s not necessarily a crime that would necessitate bail unless, say, there’s some kind of history involved.
In Barry’s case, there are a few volumes of history: The arrest happened hours after he appeared on the front page of the Daily News with the headline, “Menace 2 Society: Career criminal can’t be derailed despite 138 busts; Freed after five new raps thanks to bail reform.”
Charles Barry has been arrested 138 times. He has a long history of pickpocketing straphangers. He’s even dressed up as an MTA worker to steal cash.
He was arrested five times in 2020 — and freed after each bust thanks to New York’s bail reform. https://t.co/BwifhZXUnL
— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) February 13, 2020
Way to make that count superannuated, I suppose.
“Officers who’ve gotten to know Barry over the years were looking for him that day because two warrants had been issued for his arrest after he missed court dates,” the Daily News reported.
“One court hearing Barry skipped is related to a Jan. 19 incident in which he was given a desk appearance ticket for allegedly stealing $50 out of woman’s hand inside the subway station at W. 42nd St. and Sixth Ave. near Bryant Park. The other hearing he missed was related to a theft in December.”
According to Fox News, police say Barry would dress as a member of New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which (among other things) runs the subway, and offer to help people buy subway cards only to steal their money.
“At least before, he’d be remanded and be behind bars for a couple of days. He wouldn’t be able to victimize people,” Assistant Chief Gerald Dieckmann, the second-ranking officer in the NYPD Transit Bureau, said.
“When someone doesn’t pay them or give them the money, it’ll turn into a robbery, a slashing, an assault,” Dieckmann said.
The Legal Aid Society, which is in favor of the bail reform law, said Barry’s case was being used to spread fear.
“Mr. Barry’s case underscores the need for economic stability and meaningful social services, not a need to roll back bail reform,” it said in a statement.
“Locking up Mr. Barry on unaffordable bail or worse, remanding without bail, ultimately does nothing to protect the public and fails entirely to address his actual needs.”
Given that Barry has served six stints in state prison and seems to unrepentantly steal money from people, I think it’s safe to say that, actually, yes, that would “protect the public.”
Barry’s “actual needs,” first, include not stealing from people.
How can the state help with that? Jail seems to be a handy way of doing it, at least temporarily. Whether or not there’s some sort of restorative or rehabilitative aspect for the state to play (and what it is) is a matter of debate, although that can happen behind bars. The punitive and protective aspects, meanwhile, seem to be pretty self-evident.
If Barry is an outlier, he isn’t exactly the first beneficiary of bail reform whose release you might not be willing to mentally cosign.
In the weeks before Christmas, amid a wave of anti-Semitic attacks, two individuals who had allegedly committed some of the assaults were released without bail. Even though they were charged with violent crimes, there weren’t any injuries, a necessary precondition for bail. (New York City, handily, had decided to implement the statewide bail reforms early. Happy holidays, I guess?)
In one case, a woman who allegedly attacked three Hasidic women while screaming “f— you, Jews!” was released on her own recognizance. Another woman who purportedly swung her purse at an Orthodox Jewish mother while screaming, “You f—ing Jew, the end is coming for you!” was also let free without bail.
Meanwhile, in the Bronx, a group of men were let go without bail despite the fact they were accused of running a $7 million opioid ring out of an apartment.
After a month long investigation, members of NY’s Drug Enforcement Task Force conducted a search warrant in the Bronx and recovered approximately 750,000 glassines of heroin, dismantling a heroin mill. Six suspects ranging from the ages of 21 to 25 have been arrested. pic.twitter.com/M4r04JhHRP
— Chief Rodney Harrison (@NYPDDetectives) January 29, 2020
Back in Manhattan, 42-year-old Gerod Woodberry was released without bail in January after allegedly robbing his fifth bank in five weeks.
“I can’t believe they let me out,” Woodberry said as he was prepped for release, anonymous sources told the New York Post. “What were they thinking?”
Even New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose administration was supposedly behind the tacit decision to implement the bail reforms early, admitted they were likely responsible for an uptick in crime since the beginning of 2020.
“We had, for six years, steady decreases in crime across the board. There’s not a whole lot of other environmental things that have changed recently,” de Blasio told New York radio. “It sort of stands out like a sore thumb that this is the single biggest new thing in the equation and we saw an extraordinary jump.”
“Of course there’s always a possibility this is plain statistical variation, that happens sometimes,” he added. “But I think it’s pretty clear that there’s only one new major piece in the equation.”
How very lit.
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