When asked why he robbed banks, notorious 20th century thief Willie Sutton supposedly said, “Because that’s where the money is.”
If you asked notorious 21st century thief Gerod Woodberry why he robs banks, he might say, “Because they keep letting me out of jail.”
Both robbers were based in New York, but in Sutton’s day the state was not so stupid as to keep letting him out.
Woodberry, who has the good fortune of working his unlawful trade in the New York of 2020, was nabbed for his alleged in role in four robberies between Dec. 30 and Jan. 8.
But under New York’s new bail reform law, which took effect Jan. 1, authorities could not hold him on bail.
They let him out on Thursday, and he promptly robbed another bank on Friday, cops said (and the surveillance video showed).
It appears now that New York is in a competition with California for who can be nicest to criminals.
Our state has enacted Proposition 47, which essentially gave a green light to shoplifters and other thieves, since theft of anything worth less than $950 is a misdemeanor.
Theft is up across the state, and probably by much more than statistics show, since many people won’t bother to report a theft when they know nothing will be done about it.
We also had AB 109, which meant a lot of offenders who should go to state prison go to county jail, and offenders who should get county jail time get probation.
Then there was Proposition 57, which offers early parole for “non-violent” offenses. Except what the law considers non-violent includes crimes such as the rape of an unconscious person and lewd acts with a 14-year-old.
It has often been said that California leads the nation in trends, good and bad. Indeed, I found a New York Times editorial praising California’s pro-criminal, er, criminal justice reform measures as an example to the nation.
Now New York has followed that example and done away with bail for “non-violent” offenses.
Meanwhile, Gerod Woodberry will be free to roam the streets and rob the banks of his choosing because, according to New York law, bank robbery is not a violent crime.
Ask any bank teller who has been handed a stickup note whether bank robbery is a violent crime.
In Sunday’s column, I wrote about the most memorable political campaign of my four decades of covering news here in the AV, the 1992 25th Congressional District race.
Another story I didn’t have room for involved James Gilmartin, the Democrat who underwent quadruple bypass surgery during the campaign and never told the public.
Gilmartin lost to Buck McKeon in that ’92 race, and again in a 1994 rematch. But in the ’94 race, he ran the best campaign ad I’ve seen in my time covering political races.
The television ad featured a chicken going back and forth across the road, as a narrator listed what Gilmartin considered McKeon’s flip-flops, going back and forth, on issues.
Then the announcer intones: “Buck, Buck, Buck McKeon can’t make up his mind. We need a candidate who knows where he stands. Vote Gilmartin.”
Those were the days when politics was still fun.
William P. Warford’s column appears every Tuesday, Friday and Sunday.