On Aug. 4, Robert Speranza, who is running in this fall’s midterm elections to represent New York’s 26th District in the State Assembly, met exclusively with Vision Times to discuss his platform.
Speranza is a life-long resident of Bayside, where he attended Holy Cross High School and went on to graduate with a B.S. in Criminal Justice from St. John’s University. Having begun his career in law enforcement as a NYC probation officer, he eventually moved on to join the ranks of the NYPD, where he worked to keep New York City streets safe. It’s his experiences in law enforcement that inspired him to run to represent New York’s 26th District in the State Assembly.
Speranza is rallying against the sweeping bail reform laws that were adopted throughout the state three years ago that ended the assessment of cash bail in most cases involving misdemeanors and non-violent felonies.
However, he and many other public officials argue the laws are simply releasing criminals, violent and otherwise, back on to the streets where they may reoffend.
“They are taking baseball bats to people’s heads, like the girl in the subway, and nobody’s doing anything about it. These people should be in jail or in a mental facility but we’re doing nothing,” Speranza said, citing various examples of re-offenders who were released under the cashless bail system.
Reoffending after getting out of jail free: ‘It’s got to stop’
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“It’s got to stop,” Speranza told Vision Times, referring to soaring crime rates statewide, arguing that bail reform is the key to tackling the problem.
“I’m tired of criminals going out, beating people, almost killing people, robbing people, doing all this … molesting children and then getting let go,” he said adding that, “They are doing the same crimes over and over and over again, with no penalty. It’s got to stop.”
He expressed support for comments recently made by the president of the Police Benevolent Association (PBA) Patrick J. Lynch, who in conversation with New York’s Fox5 commented on a recent assault on a police officer in New York’s subway system.
“If New Yorkers want to know why the chaos in the transit system is not improving more quickly — this is why. The criminals underground know they can get in a brawl, choke a cop and be back out in hours. Cops are putting ourselves on the line to make the subways safer, but we are feeling abandoned by a justice system that won’t back us up,” Lynch said at the time.
“I know Patty very well and he’s 100 percent right. Cops can’t do their jobs when their hands are tied,” Speranza said.
Per Speranza’s campaign website he believes that “Today, we have criminals running rampant in all neighbourhoods in NY. Our assembly and senate, along with our past and current governor, saw fit to give a free pass to criminals with cashless bail and defunding police resources, thus allowing offenders to continuously repeat the same crime without any fear of interruption.”
If elected, he promises to vote to repeal the “ill-fated” bail reform laws as well as to introduce change to the parole system so that “murderers do not go free while their victims and their families will never be free from their actions.”
When asked if he thought the situation would get worse with another Democrat win this fall he said, “Yes, if Democrats win again, it’s only going to get worse.”
Education a key tool in the fight
Speranza believes that New York children are “the most deserving of our investment,” and as such has laid out how he would address the problems plaguing the state’s education system.
“Parents are being told that budget cuts are going to negatively impact our schools,” he says on his campaign website, “Our education system is failing us as students graduate without the necessary skills and knowledge to compete in college and the workplace,” he added.
He believes New Yorkers’ tax dollars are not reaching the children the money is intended to help, and that layers of administration are depleting the resources.
As such he argues that there needs to be more teachers and less administration in schools. “We must ensure that all students get the programs and education that is geared toward them, not a blanket policy that doesn’t address individual students’ needs,” he says.
If elected, he promises to fight to restore funding for vocational schools as well as to “advocate for the Specialized High School Test and the Gifted and Talented assessment.”
He encourages parents to be involved with their children’s schools saying that parents need to be partners with their schools and “should be allowed to prevent controversial issues from being taught to their children without consent,” something that he “vehemently opposes” and promises to fight for every parents’ rights.