Consequences of Misguided Bail Reform

Assemblyman Bonta and Senator Hertzberg of California.

In early May, former “Real Housewives of New Jersey” star Dina Manzo and her boyfriend Dave Cantin arrived home from a party on a Saturday night to find themselves greeted by some very unwelcome visitors. Two masked men had entered their townhouse. The men jumped the beautiful blonde and her beau and then proceeded to tie up, assault, and rob them. Cardin was beaten with a baseball bat and Manzo was punched in the face several times before the bad guys fled the scene with cash and jewelry.

The shocking crime that left Manzo shaken has gotten another pair of reality stars fired up: Duane “Dog the Bounty Hunter” Chapman and his wife Beth, who recently went to New Jersey to take on Governor Chris Christie over a policy that Dog and Beth say has put everyone in New Jersey in more danger.

Beth Chapman told ODN, “When I think of how afraid Dina Manzo must have been when she was bound up by those two thugs and didn’t know whether she and her boyfriend would live or die, it makes me furious. Dog and I understand law and order and we’ve seen the impact crime has on the victims, and the so-called criminal justice reforms that former Gov. Christie signed into law have let dangerous criminals run free.”

The Chapmans are referring to the law Christie signed in January 2017 that eliminated New Jersey’s bail system, and turned courthouses into a revolving door: Thousands of people get charged with a crime and thousands are automatically released, with just a signed document promising to return to court.

Local police officers are now asking that the recently enacted New Jersey “pretrial system” be scraped. NBC News New York recently reported that the criminals aren’t afraid to get arrested, because they know under “bail reform” it is a get-out-of-jail-free card. They are back on the street the next day, often committing yet more crimes.

When former Governor Chris Christie was selling the New Jersey pretrial system to the public, he claimed that the reforms were a way to help out poor, but the truth has turned out to be that when defendants are automatically released from jail, they too often end up right back in poor communities and committing more crimes.

That’s why Dog and Beth spent time in New Jersey helping the family of Christian Rodgers announce a lawsuit over the pretrial release program against then Gov. Christie.

Rodgers was no celebrity, but a father of two children who was gunned down on his way to a convenience store by a man who had recently been released after being arrested with a pistol. Dog and Beth were noticeably moved by the speech given by Rodger’s mother, who lashed out at Christie saying “I keep hearing from people how this bail reform system has been such a success… I want to let them know what type of success they created. Yes, you guys successfully let this guy out when he shouldn’t have been. You were successful at allowing my son to run for his life after he had been shot… you guys were successful at having me wonder what were my child’s last thoughts as he lay there bleeding to death.”

While crime impacts poor people the most, celebrities aren’t immune and the problems aren’t restricted to the East Coast.

After thieves stole more than $200,000 worth of valuables from model-actor Fabio Lanzoni, Fabio said, “You feel violated, angry, upset; it’s your home.” Fabio also told CBS news that one cause of the burglary’s speed was California’s early release programs “which allow convicted felons to be released before they have served their full sentences.” Fabio went on to say, “They see a nice home. They see nice cars. They burglarize everybody — just in my area, the month of March more than 350 homes just in one month, and just a section of Los Angeles. It’s an epidemic.”

The Golden State under Gov. Jerry Brown is creating a system where penalties for crimes are cut or effectively disappear, good behavior points towards early release and jail privileges are awarded at an accelerated pace, heinous felonies are pled down to misdemeanors and jail terms are reduced. Tens of thousands of convicted criminals win this lottery and gain early release, some with decades cut off their sentences.

California Proposition 47, passed in 2014, reduced several drug-possession felonies to misdemeanors. The initiative now prompts misdemeanor sentencing for theft, receiving stolen property and forging/writing bad checks for amounts of $950 or less. As long as the value of the stolen items is below that limit, the perpetrator now receives a misdemeanor charge rather than a felony, and fines and jail terms are reduced accordingly.

Even Dog and Beth themselves recently had their hotel room robbed in Los Angeles, and the number of celebrity victims of misguided criminal coddling is growing.

In the past year there were a string of high-profile heists in the Los Angeles area:

  • ‘Shameless’ star Emmy Rossum’s Los Angeles home was burglarized. Over $150,000 in vintage jewelry and other values were stolen.
  • Los Angeles Lakers’ guard Nick Young’s home was burglarized. He lost $500,000 in cash and jewelry to the thief or thieves.
  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig’s home was burglarized while Puig was in Arizona for spring training. The theft netted burglars approximately $170,000 in jewelry and other property.
  • Robbers got away with $300,000 worth of jewelry from former New York Knicks coach and Los Angeles Lakers guard Derek Fisher’s home. All five of Fisher’s NBA championship rings were taken.
  • TV and movie actor David Spade lost $80,000 worth of jewelry during his home’s break-in.
  • “Mom” star Jaimy Pressly’s home was burglarized in March, when she came home and discovered a window pried open and jewelry and electronics missing.

In California Dog and Beth are fighting SB-10, another misguided bill they believe would upend the justice system in the state and make these kinds of crimes and other violent offenses more common.

Back in New Jersey, the robbery and assault of Dina Manzo are a high-profile case that points to the wider problem created by former Gov. Christie and other politicians.

Dog told ODN, “Those two cowards that robbed Dina and used her boyfriend for batting practice better hope I don’t find them first. Unlike former Gov. Chris Christie, Assemblyman Rob Bonta and Senator Robert Hertzberg of California, I don’t play hug-a-thug.”

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