NYC Shooting Spike Blamed on Decline in Gun Arrests

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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner Dermot Shea blame the steep rise in shootings in New York City on a breakdown in the criminal justice system that they contend has allowed criminals back out on the streets. They cite a range of other causes, including the pandemic and the George Floyd protests, as well as a new state law that eliminated cash bail for many defendants. A confidential city analysis of police data offers little if any evidence to back up their claims. The analysis suggests the state’s new bail law and the mass release of inmates from city jails because of the coronavirus outbreak played almost no role in the spike in shootings, the New York Times reports. Of the 1,500 inmates let out of the Rikers Island jail from March 16 to April 30, only seven had been rearrested on a weapons charge by mid-July.

Nearly 2,000 people were allowed to go home pending trial on gun charges, but only 40 of those defendants were arrested on another weapons charge while they were out. The analysis cites a different possible reason for the wave of shootings: The number of arrests for gun crimes has plummeted. On Sunday, another 19 people were shot in New York City, one fatally. Through the first seven months of this year, shootings were up 72 percent over the same period last year and murders rose 30 percent. Police say feuds between street gangs are behind most incidents. De Blasio has been particularly critical of the courts, saying the lack of trials because of the pandemic and the inability of prosecutors to push cases forward with indictments were “a huge piece” of the crime spike. Lawrence Marks, the state’s chief administrative judge, said the mayor’s attacks on the courts were “false, misleading and irresponsible.”

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