republican debate

New York bail reform in spotlight after Bronx day care death

  • Three suspects are in custody after a baby died from a fentanyl overdose
  • Narcotics arrest in NYC have dropped some 50% since bail reform passed
  • The law has been revised three times since it was enacted in 2019

(NewsNation) — The death of a 1-year-old in New York City has once again put the spotlight on criminal justice reform as communities grapple with how to crack down on drugs.

Three suspects have been arrested in the deadly Bronx day care poisoning that killed one child and sent three more to the hospital.

With the plague of fentanyl still spreading, should cities start being tougher on drug criminals?

It’s a question being asked in New York, where legislators in 2019 passed a bill eliminating cash bail in most cases involving misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies.

According to the Brennan Center for Justice, there is no clear connection between the bail reform and crime increases.

However, New York City’s special narcotics prosecutor, Bridget Brennan, told The New York Times the laws seem to have emboldened drug dealers.

“What that means in terms of drug dealers is they’re going to be more bold and blatant in their activity,” Brennan said. “There is a lot of money to be made and there is not much of a deterrent.”

After the law’s passage, there was roughly a 50% drop in the number of narcotics arrests, from 27,232 in 2018 to 14,156 in 2020, the Times reported. Arrests for 2023 have risen, to 16,000 as of Sept. 17, still well below the 2018 level.

“There has to be greater discretions for judges when they have cases like this,” said Mercedes Colwin, a trial attorney. “You’ve got to get back to the books, it has to be interpreted differently.”

Indeed, earlier this year state legislators agreed to scale back the law for a third time to give judges more discretion to hold defendants before their trials.

“There’s individuals out there that are taking full advantage and exploiting a well-intentioned law that shouldn’t be exploited under these circumstances,” Colwin said.

Notably, the three defendants in the Bronx day care case have been charged by federal prosecutors.

Renny Antonio Parra Paredes, who was arrested Monday, is accused of working with the day care’s owner, 36-year-old Grei Mendez, and Mendez’s husband’s cousin, 41-year-old Carlisto Acevedo Brito, to distribute narcotics. The drug operation at the day care was ongoing between July and September, authorities said.

Derek Maltz, former director of the DEA’s Special Operations Division, says incidents like this one are happening all over the country.

“This is a crisis,” he said Monday on “Elizabeth Vargas Reports.”

Police are still looking for a fourth suspect, Mendez’s husband.

“I’m confident that the DEA, NYPD will track him down,” Maltz said.


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