New York sheriff critical of bail reform after serial bank robbery suspect hits again day after release

NEW YORK – A New York sheriff reacted on Monday to a suspected serial bank robber who is now accused of hitting another bank the day after he was released from jail under a newly enacted bail reform law.

Suffolk County Sheriff Errol Toulon Jr. said on “Fox & Friends” that “one of the most concerning things” about the new measure is that law enforcement has to waste resources to “rearrest” people who are released and commit more crimes. He said the law puts communities in danger and is “empowering these criminals to actually continue their criminogenic behavior.”

Toulon was referring to Gerod Woodberry. According to the New York Post, the man had been jailed for reportedly robbing Chase banks in several New York City neighborhoods between Dec. 30 and Jan. 8. Now the serial bank robber is accused of robbing a fifth bank on Friday, just one day after his release.

The New York City Police Department confirmed to Fox News that Woodberry, who is from South Carolina, was arrested on Wednesday and charged with robbery in connection to the Chase bank robbery in midtown Manhattan, which occurred Dec. 30.

In that robbery, according to NYPD, Woodberry allegedly passed a note to the teller and fled on foot with about $1,000. The Post reported that because Woodberry allegedly robbed the banks using a demand note rather than a weapon, no New York jail can currently hold him, no matter how many times he commits the crime.

So apparently the threat of “force” or presence of “fear” is not enough to hold a “demand-note-robbery” suspect in custody under the new bail reform law. The unintended consequence will probably find more thieves collecting plenty of loot before being held accountable for their crimes, much like California. Moreover, it will likely invite out-of-state criminals (Woodberry is reportedly from South Carolina) to take advantage of their leniency.

Previously, New York prosecutors would determine whether to make a bail recommendation or agree to have the defendant released on their own recognizance regardless of whether the alleged crime was a felony or misdemeanor, and then the judge would make a determination. Defense attorneys would typically make arguments that bail would be inappropriate, or should be set at a low amount, which judges would take into consideration, Fox reported.

Under the new law, this process no longer takes place for the majority of cases, as courts are now prohibited from setting any monetary bail whatsoever or keeping defendants in custody before trial in almost every type of misdemeanor case, and for a long list of felonies as well.

When asked if New Yorkers are safer now that they were before Toulon answered, “I would say no.”

The Long Island sheriff then elaborated on Monday saying, “When you think of an individual that has a mental health issue or substance abuse issue that’s using a crime to feed their addiction. There’s no way to stop their addiction. Usually they will be incarcerated, they will go to jail, they have an opportunity to now beat that substance abuse, but now they’re returning back to our communities.”

The Suffolk County Sheriff’s office tweeted their opposition to the sweeping reforms that end cash bail for all misdemeanor and nonviolent felony charges in New York State, which took effect January 1, 2020, writing that the new law “directly impacts the residents of Suffolk County and New York State as a whole.”

The sheriff’s office noted that in Suffolk County, 301 inmates, who would have been held on bail or bond depending on the severity of the crime and the defendant’s past criminal history, were released by the courts under this new law in the month leading up to its enactment.

Toulon called this “deeply concerning,” adding that “there are clearly serious issues with this state law.”

“Judges must have discretion to determine bail based on a criminal defendant’s likelihood to re-offend and cause further pain to his or her victims and the public at large,” Toulon said, adding that “the New York State Legislature should amend or repeal bail reform now.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., holds a different view. He tweeted last week, “Our cash bail system is a disgrace that disproportionately hurts Black, Brown and poor Americans. New York did the right thing by reforming its bail law and must not go backwards. When we are in the White House, we will end cash bail nationally.”

Toulon said Sanders is “very incorrect” with his policy, adding, “When you think about putting those that have committed robberies, burglaries or even some sexual assaults back into our community, it’s not the best thing.”

Woodberry’s attorney did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

Woodberry, 42, was also arrested in August 2007 and charged with criminal possession of marijuana, according to the NYPD.

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