By Marie Ndiaye
June 17, 2019
Manhattan: Acting Queens DA John Ryan’s op-ed reeks of something foul yet so familiar: law enforcement’s fearmongering tactics that have driven many eras of destruction on black and Latinx communities (“Bail out of this botched reform,” op-ed, June 17). Ryan is invoking the old trope of the “dark” villain in his call to scare us out of bail reform. But no one is buying it.
It is revealing that not once in his op-ed does he mention that New Yorkers detained pretrial at Rikers Island are presumed innocent and that their current incarceration is simply a result of not being able to buy their freedom. Also missing is the acknowledgement of the need for any reform at all.
These reforms — ideas that have been tested in states throughout the country — are the only way we can start to dismantle mass incarceration, close Rikers Island, and restore fairness to a system that has long preyed on communities of color.
Unlike other efforts from prosecutors around New York City to modernize their practices, Queens has been the lone holdout refusing to let go of their decades-old Giuliani-esque approach to law enforcement. Queens residents will be well served when his tenure finally ends January 1.
Marie Ndiaye, supervising attorney of the Decarceration Project at The Legal Aid Society