Career and Violent Criminals Are Exploiting New York's Criminal Justice System

August 3, 2022

Mayor Adams, Police Commissioner Sewell Highlight Frequent Recidivists – Call for Targeted Changes Needed to Sustain Reforms and Protect New Yorkers

The number of recidivists for several crimes has steadily increased in recent years

Mayor Eric Adams and Police Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell today released new data highlighting the increase in recidivism in New York. They released a list of the top ten recidivists in the city and called for changes to stop rampant recidivism, erase the perception among criminals that there are no meaningful consequences for crime, and restore government’s focus on the victims of crime and disorder.

In addition to other reforms, the Mayor and the Police Commissioner believe judges must be allowed to remand defendants at arraignment when they are deemed a risk to public safety based on the severity of their alleged crimes or their history of recidivism. New York State is now the only state in the country where a judge is barred from considering the danger an offender poses when deciding whether or not to set bail.

“The hardworking women and men of the NYPD are doing the work, but the overall system is failing New Yorkers by allowing repeat offenders back out on the streets over and over again,” said Mayor Adams. “Time and time again, our police officers arrest someone who has multiple charges, but no matter how many times this person may have been arrested before, they are often walking free hours later. There is almost no accountability, and that makes us all less safe. I fought against abuses in the criminal justice system as an officer and as founder of 100 Black Men in Law Enforcement, and I know it is possible to keep New Yorkers safe, while serving justice at the same time. We need targeted, strategic, smart fixes to our laws that focus on the small number of people that are driving crime — the few hundred serial offenders in custody who are taking advantage of the system and exploiting reforms every day. We must stop this revolving door of injustice.”

“Let’s be clear: Nonviolent, first-time offenders deserve a second chance, as the spirit of the state’s 2020 criminal justice reforms envisioned,” said Police Commissioner Sewell. “However, judges should be given the ability to hold career and violent criminals in custody pending trial. We need to maintain the reforms we all agree on – yet at the same time, pull together to keep New Yorkers from being harmed. Our collective focus must be on the victims of crime.”

Recidivism has increased in recent years, and in some categories, the increases have been significant. The number of individuals arrested three or more times in a calendar year for crimes including robbery, burglary, and grand larceny, among others, has increased through the first six months of 2022, compared with crime in the years prior to the onset of the global pandemic. For example, 211 individuals logged at least three arrests for burglary through June 2022, a 142.5% increase compared with the 87 individuals arrested at least three times for burglary in the first six months of 2017. For shoplifting, 899 people have been arrested three times for that crime through June 2022, an 88.9% increase over the 476 individuals arrested three times for shoplifting through June of 2017.

Nonetheless, with a reduced headcount, and a streamlined overall budget, police officer productivity is on the rise.

So far, in calendar 2022, overall arrests by police officers have increased by 24% compared with the same period a year ago. More specifically, arrests for the seven major felony crimes are up by approximately 29% compared with the same period in 2021. Firearms arrests are at a 27-year high, as the NYPD has taken more than 4,300 guns off the streets through the end of July.

Additionally, criminal court summonses are up 10%, while parking summonses are up by 23% and moving summonses are up by 15% compared to the same period a year ago.

Officers of the NYPD are working around the clock, giving their all to help make New York safe – and the city this year is safer: The numbers of murders and shootings are both on the decline through the first seven months of the year, compared to the same period in 2021.

Yet, for many of the most serious criminals, the city’s criminal justice system has created a revolving-door of no-consequences for wrongdoing that is allowing them right back onto the streets to prey on innocent victims. Today, nearly 25% of those arrested for burglary go on to commit another felony within 60 days, a sharp increase compared with 2017, when 8% of accused burglars were arrested for another felony within 60 days. Analyses for the offenses of Grand Larceny, Grand Larceny Auto, and Petit Larceny, show nearly identical increases for 2021 compared with 2017. And, those recidivism rates for those crimes have not improved in calendar 2022.

This “no consequences” landscape must end.

To understand the damaging effect on the city, consider the list, below, representing notable, recent recidivists who have repeatedly victimized New Yorkers. For individuals with criminal histories for reoffending, as well as for criminals who commit severe or violent crimes, judges must be provided the discretion to discern the best method of ensuring that they do not victimize more New Yorkers and make our communities less safe.

These worst-of-the-worst recidivists include:

  • A high-volume offender with 101 career arrests – 88 of which have occurred since 2020.
  • A repeat offender arrested 57 times since 2020 – with 23 of those arrests for burglary. The individual is currently free on parole.
  • A recidivist with 87 arrests, 25 of them since 2020, and 9 of those involving a robbery charge. This individual is also free on the city’s streets at this time.
  • An individual with 48 career arrests, including 39 since 2020. This individual has logged 17 grand larceny arrests and has 10 open warrants.
  • A recidivist currently free despite a record of 63 total arrests, including 39 since 2020. This individual has 13 arrests for grand larceny auto.

The NYPD has long championed reform – to reflect what a majority of New Yorkers have expressed as their desire for effective and fair law enforcement. But these trends are alarming and indisputable. We cannot continue to allow a limited number of dangerous recidivists to exploit current bail laws to repeatedly victimize innocent New Yorkers. Together, all forces of government must pull together to fix the laws, return our system to pre-pandemic functionality, and continue to make our city and its people safer.