A change in New York law has made it tougher to put parolees back behind bars when they are accused of a new crime, critics say.
Flaws in the “Less is More” act – signed into law by Gov. Kathy Hochul last year — have been exposed by several recent high-profile crimes involving suspects on parole who were re-arrested for heinous acts, only to then be freed again thanks to the so-called reforms, according to critics.
“Before, if someone was on parole and they got arrested, they would have to go back to jail and finish their sentence. Now parolees aren’t afraid of getting arrested and going back to jail,” a Queens cop said.
“This is another example of progressive politicians taking another tool out of our toolbox,” the disgusted officer said of “Less is More.”
The law places strict limits on parolees who commit technical violations, such as failing to show up for a hearing or failing a drug test – but it also offers new protections and hearing deadlines to suspects when they are accused of fresh crimes.
For example, a warrant now has to be sought for a suspect breaking parole, and a hearing must be held within a specific timeframe.
“It is extremely hard to get a warrant,” noted Wayne Spence, a parole officer and president of the Public Employees Federation, New York’s second-largest state-employee union, which is pushing to amend the law to avoid the move.
He said politicians should study the effect of the law to determine how many parolees are involved in crimes compared to several years ago, suggesting that the changes make it easier for them to stay on the streets to possibly commit more crimes.
Convicted sex-offender Bui Van Phu was on lifetime parole when he was accused of sucker-punching a stranger and putting him in a coma in The Bronx in August. He was still let out on no bail thanks to “Less is More” — until The Post’s front-page coverage prompted Hochul to push for authorities to issue a warrant on the parole violation.
Critics argue that before the governor’s own reform, Phu could have automatically been put in jail for violating his parole when in court for the sucker-punch case.
When vagrant Waheed Foster was arrested for breaking his parole in August over two separate incidents — one for alleged criminal possession of stolen property and the other for criminal mischief — a judge cut him loose pending a hearing process under the new law, over the objections of parole officials.
While out, he randomly beat a woman in a Queens subway station so badly her eyesight was in jeopardy, cops say.
Suspected gang member Lesean Carson, on parole since 2019, racked up new weapons arrests and stopped reporting to his parole officer in August — but didn’t end up in jail thanks to “Less is More” until he was arrested for criminal possession of a weapon again Sept. 26, according to sources and officials.
And serial burglar Gregor Gauger was arrested multiple times and pleaded guilty to charges in August, but still walked free as per the law until another arrest Sept. 6. He was finally held in custody.
The state’s controversial bail-reform laws, passed in 2019, and “Less is More” go hand-in-hand in terms of catering to criminals, said defense lawyer Mark Bederow.
“Guys who a couple of years ago unquestionably would’ve been held get let out,” Bederow told The Post. “That’s just the reality.
“Do I think that guys know that? Of course they know that. … The same way they know if they commit certain offenses, they know the likelihood bail will be set is less.”
Avi Small, a rep for Hochul, said the governor continues to work with law enforcement to “improve the criminal justice system, combat violence, and strengthen public safety.”
“Under Governor Hochul’s leadership, DOCCS has worked closely with law enforcement and continued to hold individuals accountable when they violate parole, including revoking parole when warranted and issuing 377 warrants for parole violations in September alone,” Small said in a statement.
Additional reporting by Zach Williams
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