New York

Mayor, NYPD cite repeat suspects in call for NY bail change

Eighty-eight times since 2020, say NYPD sources, Harold Gooding has been busted on larceny charges — yet cops and judges under New York’s bail laws have repeatedly let him free without bail.

Gooding’s record frustrates Mayor Adams and NYPD brass, who say he has escaped the possibility of being held on bail at Rikers Island while awaiting trial more than any other criminal suspect since New York’s bail reforms took effect in 2020.

Adams and Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell appeared at a One Police Plaza news conference Wednesday to argue that Gooding and nine other suspects who’ve avoided being sent to jail while awaiting trial on numerous charges show why the state’s bail laws need to be tweaked.

“This is not attacking some of the needed reforms that we have,” Adams said. “This is about a small number of people that are taking advantage of the existing laws to endanger out city.”

“We are seeing tragedies every day on the streets of this city we love and serve,” said Sewell. “People are suffering and more and more are unnecessarily becoming victims — victims of repeat offenders who have shown that their criminal behavior is given no consequences.”

Bail reform advocates are not ready to abandon their cause, and maintain that the changes that took effect in 2020 should stay on the books.

“Let’s not tell New Yorkers all we’ve got to do is to lock up the Black and brown people who are the children of the parents we locked up 20 years ago,” Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said before the news conference.

“That’s not leadership,” Williams said. “And on top of that you want to lock them up on Rikers Island, where people are dying on a regular basis waiting for their trial.”

But Adams, Sewell and law enforcement officials frustrated by the laws say suspects like Gooding prove their point about the need to fix bail reform.

Gooding, 53, who’s also known as Jamel White, served prison time for robbery and burglary convictions in Brooklyn, say police sources. His career of 101 arrests includes 88 busts since the bail laws took effect.

Of those 88 arrests since 2020, 74 are for for petit and grand larceny charges, all of which are in Manhattan. Those 74 arrests include two pending cases in which he’s accused of five separate incidents of stealing from Target stores.

In all, police sources say, Gooding has 15 criminal convictions, including two for violent felonies, one for a non-violent felony, and 10 for misdemeanors. And at least 14 times, say the sources, Gooding has skipped court hearings.

Those on the NYPD’s top 10 recidivist list have between them been arrested 485 times since the bail reform laws took effect.

Those 485 arrests amount to 75% of the suspects’ total histories of 642 arrests, the police numbers show.

No. 7 on the list has been arrested 33 times since bail reform took effect, said police. Those arrests include 17 residential and commercial burglaries in Brooklyn.

No. 7 also has ignored at least nine court hearings — which cops called a “significant bench warrant history.”

The suspect has pleaded guilty to at lest two attempted burglary charges, for which he’s awaiting sentencing — and is still out on bail, police say.

Suspect No. 8 on the police list has 25 arrests since bail reform took effect, including 21 in Brooklyn. In nine arrests, Suspect No. 8 is charged with robbery. The suspect has also been charged eight times with burglary, say police.

No. 8 has been convicted in three cases, and is out while he awaits sentencing.

The list of of repeat criminal suspects released by police includes one person arrested 67 times and another arrested 59 times since bail reform took effect.

A small number of people are responsible for a large amount of crime in the city, police say.

NYPD Chief of Crime Control Strategies Michael LiPetri said that 716 people — just 0.008% of the city’s population — are to blame for for 30% of the 2,400 shootings in the city since the start of 2022.

Adams and his police executives say the NYPD is on the job — and note that officers have made more arrests this year and more gun arrests than at any time in the past 29 years.

But they say the bail laws skew too far from the interests of public safety, and too much toward the rights of the accused.

Adams noted that far more burglary and grand larceny suspects, for instance, are re-arrested within 60 days under the current laws than was the case in 2017, years before bail reform took effect.

Sewell said that because of the bail laws — which bar judges from setting bail for most non-violent crimes, including felonies — criminal defendants like Gooding understand that their crimes have few or no consequences.

“They see that because they’ve been through the system before — sometimes dozens and some even more than 100 times — and they are allowed out the door and back out on the streets,” the police commissioner said.

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