In Nassau County, there has been a 5% increase in major crime this year compared to last and law enforcement officials say that in many cases, bail reform is to blame.
Officials say that their biggest fear became a reality earlier this week after a victim and witness in a gang-involved case came forward and ended up being murdered. A man now identified as Wilmer Maldonado was found bludgeoned to death outside of an abandoned home in New Cassel on Sunday evening. For nearly two years he had been a target for members of MS-13 and police say he was prepared to testify at an upcoming trial.
“The system failed,” said Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder. “This man is dead because we didn’t do enough as the entire group. This law isn’t helping us.”
Up until recently, prosecutors were able to protect the identities of victims and witnesses. Now, law enforcement officers say they have 15 days to turn over everything they’ve collected in an investigation, making those who cooperate vulnerable.
However, advocates for bail reform say that witness intimidation is nothing new.
“While we can’t speak to the circumstances of the case in an uninformed way, we do know that Discovery reform has given judges the ability to withhold witness information, place court-ordered restrictions, including orders of protection and DAs still have the ability to offer witness protections for cases they deem worthy of it,” said Khalil Cumberbatch of New Yorkers United for Justice.
The Nassau County Executive and District Attorney insist that these new requirements pose a threat to the community and highlight the importance of safeguarding the identities of witnesses and victims.