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Bail Reform: Will People Die As A Result of This?

 

 

You may recall that I have written previously about how terribly screwed up our criminal justice system is regarding the differing treatment accorded people of different races. And, how our system tends – not all the time, but much of the time – to coddle those who have money, and bestow advantages that the ordinary among us do not have.

And those things should be fixed. And our cash bail system, we now know, was part of the problem. Whether people are released before trial ought to, I think, be tied to how dangerous they are. Alas, the bail reform inflicted on New Yorkers this year risks making the system worse, not better, more dangerous, not less.

I am especially disturbed about the potential impacts regarding domestic violence and stalking cases (see page 1 for an alarming story about alleged stalking resulting from online gaming). When someone travels across state lines to stalk someone, this seems to me to be dangerous. I am quaint, I know.

This should be tackled forthwith by our lawmakers and the governor. Otherwise, we will discover how screwed up this law is when a stalking or domestic violence victim ends up dead. It will be too late, the words will be empty, and we will realize, belatedly, what we know intuitively right now.

What I’m watching: We saw Parasite this weekend. I commend it to your attention. Multi-layered. I suspect there are many more class messages and distinctions that I didn’t pick up on, or that a second viewing will uncover. It’s quite good. Who knew that a building could be a character?

Also, Ford v Ferrari. Engaging cinematography (as with Parasite), good performances, a story that while known, wasn’t especially well-known. I confess, I had not previously thought of car racing as enticing.

What I’m listening to: The Daily, from the New York Times, especially Friday’s episode, an interview with Dean Baquet, executive editor of the Times. It looked at “The Lessons of 2016” and the Times’, and the media’s in general, election coverage. It was tough, reflective and thoughtful. Worth a listen.

Anyway, good stuff.

Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, the Cold Spring Democrat, held a Town Hall meeting Saturday in Putnam Valley. It was before a generally appreciative crowd of some 150. On the topic of election security, he was blunt about what needs to be done. Our intelligence and security agencies, he said, are highly focused and committed to safeguarding the 2020 election.

But Facebook and other social platforms? “I think it would be great if Facebook and Twitter took some responsibility for their businesses,” he said. He said Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, will wrap himself in the flag and talk about the First Amendment. Meanwhile, Facebook uses the law to avoid being treated like a publisher and, at the same time, will promulgate falsehoods and promote them because it is more profitable to its business.

Said Maloney: “They should act like they’re American companies once in a while, and not just moneymaking entitities.”

Congress may finally be close to acting on this.

“It’s very important that the private companies take more responsibility,” he said. And, “There’s bipartisan will at this point to demand greater accountability from the tech companies.”

As a publisher, we pay a good bit of insurance premiums for liability insurance, including for libel insurance, I have been dismayed for some time that Facebook is able to so freely flout the law. It damages the republic with little regard for the long-term cost, and degrades our civic discourse.

I hope Maloney is right that Congress is ready to act. I believe his assessment of our intelligence capability. But I am very pessimistic Facebook gives a damn about the nation.

Douglas Cunningham is editor of the Putnam County Courier and of the PCNR in Cold Spring. Reach him at editor@pcnr.com, or just call him at 845-265-2468.

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