When a 30-year-old woman physically attacked three Jewish women in Brooklyn while shouting anti-Semitic insults, New York Assemblywoman Amy Paulin didn’t expect the attacker to be released from custody. She also didn’t expect her to attack people two times thereafter.
That’s why on Jan. 6 Paulin introduced legislation in the New York State Assembly to restore discretion to judges in requiring bail for people who may pose a threat to public safety.
“With this amendment, we have the opportunity to adjust the critical bail reforms that were enacted last year,” Paulin said in an official press release. “Bail reform needed to happen in the interest of justice and equal treatment of accused individuals but we must balance those objectives against the safety and security of our residents.”
The 2019-20 New York State budget includes changes in the way defendants are held after their arrest and before their trials begins. Courts now must release defendants without bail for misdemeanors before trial unless the court decides the defendant poses a flight risk.
Due to the new bail reform, the Brooklyn attacker, identified as Tiffany Harris, was released after being charged with attempted assault as a hate crime. A second arrest after another assault led to her release without bail once again. It wasn’t until Harris was arrested a third time that she was sent to a psychiatric ward for evaluation.
Paulin, who has served the 88th New York State Assembly District since 2001, said the new reform has come with unintended consequences that need to be resolved immediately.
“I am particularly concerned that judges have lost the ability to impose bail on violent and potentially violent perpetrators of hate crimes and domestic violence,” Paulin said in the press release. “These types of crimes carry a high incidence of recurrence and escalation in severity. We cannot have a situation where the judiciary is handcuffed and the victims of crimes are left vulnerable and afraid.”
The attack in Brooklyn wasn’t the only incident that affected Paulin. She also points to the mass shooting at a kosher supermarket in Jersey City on Dec. 10, as well as the stabbing of five people in a rabbi’s home in Monsey on Dec. 28.
“During this time of widespread and increased attacks against the Jewish community, we must do all we can to make all New Yorkers feel safe and protected,” Paulin said.
According to her official website, Paulin has a diverse legislative agenda which includes government reform, sexual abuse and education. During her tenure as an assemblywoman, she’s had 216 bills signed including a law that went into effect in September increasing the time before a gun can be sold to someone whose background check requires additional scrutiny, as well as a bill in 2006 eliminating the statute of limitations against sexual assault.