Reader's View: Put crime victims, not criminals, first

Senator Daphne Jordan

May 06, 2019

Originally published in Saratogian on May 05, 2019.

October 20, 1981, is a date that the families of Nyack Police Officers Edward O’Grady and Waverly Brown, and Brinks Security Guard Peter Paige will never forget. On that terrible day, a gang of vicious, cowardly thugs brutally murdered O’Grady, Brown, and Paige.

In addition to taking the lives of those three innocent, law-abiding men, the criminals also severely wounded Brinks Guard Joseph Trombino, Brinks Truck Driver Guard James Kelly, and inured Police Detective Arthur Keenan. The Brinks robbery of 1981 was a terrible, heinous crime and the pain, anguish, and loss of life left in its wake are immeasurable.

Domestic terrorist Judith Clark goes free – where is the justice?

Shockingly, a criminal at the center of the Brinks robbery and murders, Judith Clark – a radical, left-wing domestic terrorist and Weather Underground member convicted of felony murder – was granted parole a few weeks ago (mere days after the observance of “National Crime Victims’ Rights Week”) even though she only served a portion of her 75-years-to-life sentence. Clark’s parole was made possible after Governor Cuomo commuted her sentence on December 30, 2016. While the State Parole Board is ultimately responsible for paroling Clark, the fact remains that if Governor Cuomo had not taken his ill-advised action, Clark would have been eligible for parole in 2056, not 2019.

Democrats pushing a “Criminals’ Bill of Rights”

Unfortunately, in the new Bizzaro-world Albany, with Democrats controlling every branch of state government, Judith Clark’s shocking parole is less an outlier and more the norm. Senate Democrats recently advanced a soft-on-crime “Criminals’ Bill of Rights” that hurts the ability of prosecutors and law enforcement to keep dangerous criminals off our streets. Senate Democrats are also pushing legislation to grant parole hearings for inmates who have served 15 years once they reach their 55th birthday, regardless of what crime the individual committed. The Democratic agenda focused on coddling criminals is wrong for New York and endangers public safety.

Republicans advocating for a “Victims’ Justice Agenda”

My Senate Republican colleagues and I are fighting for the rights of crime victims and their families, as well as supporting the brave men and women of law enforcement who risk their lives to keep our communities safe.

That’s why I was proud to join my colleagues in unveiling our comprehensive “Victims’ Justice Agenda.” Components of our Victims’ Justice Agenda include life imprisonment without parole for the sentence of murder in the first degree, video recording all victim impact statements – and requiring members of the Parole Board to review all relevant victim impact statements prior a parole hearing – along with necessitating unanimous consent of the Parole Board to release an inmate on parole. To read more specifics of our Victims’ Justice Agenda, visit my Senate website jordan.nysenate.gov.

Tilting the scales of justice back toward law-abiding citizens

Our Victims’ Justice Agenda would make much-needed reforms to help keep violent criminals behind bars without parole and ease the parole process for suffering victims, families and the public. All of this would tip the scales of justice back toward law-abiding citizens and crime victims, not criminals like Judith Clark and others who have murdered and preyed upon innocent New Yorkers. It’s time Albany put crime victims first.

Contact and connect with me

If I can ever help, call me at (518) 455-2381, e-mail me at jordan@nysenate.gov, visit my Senate webpage at www.jordan.nysenate.gov, or stop by my office: Room 508 LOB, Albany, NY 12247. You can also connect with me on Facebook (Senator Daphne Jordan), Instagram (Senator_Jordan) and Twitter (NY Senator Jordan).

NYS Senator Daphne Jordan serves as the Ranking Minority Member on the Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee and represents the 43rd Senate District that includes parts of Rensselaer, Saratoga and Washington counties and all of Columbia County.