NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Demand for changes to the state’s new criminal justice reform laws mount as a homeless man is released without bail after the two separate unprovoked attacks on women.
The man was freed despite not showing up in court for a previous attack, reports CBS2’s political reporter Marcia Kramer.
Eugene Webb, a 26-year-old homeless man, wasn’t smiling when cops arrested him for two separate unprovoked attacks on women within hours of each other, including a 23-year-old too terrified to show her face. The attack was so violent it knocked out a tooth.
“I got pushed from the side and then attacked again and I was punched in the head,” she said.
Webb might have been smiling today because under the new criminal justice reform laws, he was released without bail despite the fact that there was a warrant for his arrest for not showing up in court to face charges from a similar attack in September.
“He should not have been released in my opinion, and in fact, he should have been sent for a minimum at least 72-hour evaluation to see if he has mental health issues,” said New York State Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, currently also a candidate for Congress.
Appearing on The Point, CBSN New York’s political talk show, Malliotakis differentiated from other politicians who have called for a so-called criminal justice “carve-out” for judges’ discretion to set bail in cases of public safety.
“We should be crafting a bill that, number one, gives everyone their constitutionally-protected right to a speedy trial, and that means investing in our court system, but also ensures that we’re only dealing with low-level crimes and perhaps first-time offenders, which is not what the law does at all,” said Malliotakis.
Just looking at the case of Eugene Webb and many others, “we should also be looking at criminal history,” she said. “Why should someone with multiple prior arrests or convictions be eligible for this?”
Those changes would help protect women like Eugene Webb’s alleged victim.
“I was screaming for help and trying to say stop,” she said. “He was definitely very mentally unstable, so it’s a sad really.”
Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins said on last week’s edition of The Point she would look at possible bail reform changes, but there appear to be stark divisions in Albany. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie says he doesn’t think charges are necessary.
The big question is whether he will change his mind.