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July 27, 2022

Congressional Assailant Released by NY State but Detained by Feds

If he had tried to stab an ordinary citizen, he’d still be free under NY law!

On July 21 in front of many onlookers David Jakubonis tried to stab NY congressman and gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin (R). Jakubonis was subdued and arrested, but a town judge released him without bail and on his own recognizance. This was not a case of a rogue judge or a reluctant prosecutor. According to the NY Times “Since 2020, under New York law, judges have been barred from setting bail on the charge of attempted assault, a nonviolent felony; previously, prosecutors would have had the option to request that Mr. Jakubonis be held on bail.”

He was later arrested by the feds on charges of “assaulting a member of congress using a dangerous weapon.” They are holding on to him.

Presumably if Jakubonis tried (but failed) to stab anyone who is not a member of congress in NY State, he’d still be on the loose. This NY law is idiotic. It’s been denounced by NYC Mayor Eric Adams who wants judges to be able to take “dangerousness” into account. NY Governor Kathy Hochul, whom Zeldin is running against, had a chance to include fixes to bail law in the budget negotiations in March but settled for tweaks to the law instead. She says that the bail “reforms” are not responsible for rising crime. After Zeldin was stabbed, she tweeted:

“My team has informed me about the incident at Lee Zeldin's campaign event tonight. Relieved to hear that Congressman Zeldin was not injured and that the suspect is in custody. I condemn this violent behavior in the strongest terms possible — it has no place in New York.”

As relieved as she was to hear that the suspect was in custody, she didn’t tweet anything when he was released from custody a few hours later under her state’s bail law.

Some have said that, given that a congressperson was the target, the NY prosecutor (who is connected, bizarrely, to Zeldin’s campaign) could have filed a more serious charge so that requiring bail would have been permissible. Others say that the alleged perpetrator was drunk and depressed so that it was not his fault and that it was not a political attack. Even others say no harm no foul since the feds have locked him up or that the weapon wasn’t very fearsome. All of that is irrelevant. The point is that if Jakubonis had tried to stab an ordinary citizen, he’d still be free under NY law!

The police have not only been defunded; they’ve been disarmed. They can’t do their job of keeping us safe if people they arrest for attempted violent crimes are not held pending trial, even when those crimes indubitably happened. The police won’t even be told about much crime if they are not able to protect victims and witnesses. How would you feel about telling the police about someone who tried to assault you if that person was surely going to be out on the street within a few hours with an opportunity to finish the job?

The NY law needs to change so that not just congresspeople are protected. The communities with the most crime will benefit the most when the police can protect them effectively.

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