On Friday, I attended the funeral of Detective Sean Carrington, who was killed on Monday in a shootout when two men opened fire on him. Detective Carrington was a hero. His life should make New York City proud, and his senseless killing should make us angry. And more important, it should make us search for solutions so that this kind of tragedy never happens again.
That's because the man who fired at Detective Carrington with a machine pistol was on the streets even though he had accumulated a long criminal record. After serving just two-thirds of a manslaughter sentence, this man was released on parole - in fact, his parole ended just nine days before he would shoot Detective Carrington. And another man, who is now accused of second-degree murder for this crime, was released on parole from a Virginia prison in 1991.
Detective Carrington never should have lost his life because the criminals who killed him never should have been free to shoot and kill again.
But what's even worse is that Detective Carrington's death is part of a consistent pattern - a pattern we should be able to stop. Earlier this month, 13-year-old Charise Gardner of Elmhurst, Queens, was murdered by a 19-year-old parolee. The killer of 16-year-old student Vaughn Brown was on probation for serious juvenile offenses. And the man who tried to kill Detective Wafky Salem by firing at his chest three times from point blank range was also on the streets because of parole. It's time to face this serious defect in our criminal justice system before more innocent people are killed.
Over the last four years, we have made remarkable, unprecedented progress in reducing crime - murder has dropped over 60 percent citywide, and overall crime has fallen by more than 44 percent. We are proud of the work we have done. But now it's time to realize that we will not be able to sustain, much less build upon, the reductions we have made unless we change some of New York State's laws - especially our parole system. New York State is still probably the best state in which to be arrested for or convicted of a crime because its antiquated laws give more respect to criminals than the laws of any other state. Because of parole and early release dates from prison, the police in New York are arresting the same habitual criminals over and over again.
New York State's system is outdated. Twenty-seven states and the federal government have done away with early release on parole and replaced it with truth in sentencing. Under truth in sentencing, when a criminal receives a nine-year sentence, for instance, that criminal will serve his full sentence - instead of serving three years, as is often the case in New York.
I once again call on the State Assembly to put saving lives before politics. It's time to end parole and ensure that all persons sentenced serve their full terms. I urge everyone who feels the same way to contact their state assemblyman and join in the petition drive to change our parole system once and for all.
If we do this - and successfully advocate other crucial changes in state and federal law, including strong federal gun control legislation and the unsealing of juvenile criminal records - we will be able to continue correcting the scales of justice, safeguarding brave police officers like Detective Carrington, and saving the lives of innocent people throughout the City.