Introduces legislation requiring electronic monitoring of Judicial Diversion Program participants to strengthen accountability following killing of NYPD Officer Randolph Holder
Assemblyman’s legislation a response to reports that alleged killer skipped Judicial Diversion program-mandated court appointments, was unaccounted for by law enforcement despite multiple attempts to locate him in weeks leading up to murder
Far Rockaway, Queens – Heeding the call of various city and state officials for meaningful criminal justice reform in the wake of the killing of NYPD Officer and Rockaway son Randolph Holder, Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D – Far Rockaway) has introduced legislation requiring regular electronic monitoring by enrollees in the state’s new Judicial Diversion Program.
“The Judicial Diversion program allowed this alleged cop killer to slip through the cracks,” said Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder. “It pains me to think that if law enforcement had been able to find him in the weeks leading up to October 20th, Officer Holder may still be with us. By requiring regular electronic monitoring of program participants, we can ensure that potentially violent offenders are accounted for at all times.”
“There has to be some level of individual responsibility and court oversight over the hundreds of city residents who are placed in diversion programs in lieu of prison. In most cases, these are not these individual’s first offenses, and many, as we have seen, have convictions for violent crimes. The cost of this monitoring program is relatively small in comparison to the cost in man-hours of investigators who must track down the whereabouts of individuals who fail to meet even their most basic requirements of the program, as we saw with Tyrone Howard, who was wanted in connection with further crimes and failed to show up for court appearances,” said Assemblyman Joe Borelli (R – South Shore), a co-sponsor of the bill. “I am glad to stand with Assemblyman Goldfeder on this in the Assembly and will soon work as a member of the Council towards having this funded and included in the city’s proposed bail reform package.”
This week, Goldfeder introduced legislation amending the state’s Criminal Procedure Law to require the use of “continuous electronic monitoring” for all participants in the Judicial Diversion program. Goldfeder’s bill was spurred by reports that Officer Holder’s alleged killer Tyrone Howard had missed a September court appearance as part of his participation in the program. According media sources, a warrant was issued on September 17th and law enforcement officials subsequently attempted to locate Howard on at least eight separate occasions in the weeks leading up to Officer Holder’s October 20th murder.
According to the New York State Office of Court Administration, approximately 550 people are currently enrolled in the Judicial Diversion Program in New York City, with 29 people residing in Queens County. Under the program, each enrollee can be subject to periodic court appearances as prescribed by law.
The Judicial Diversion program was created in 2009 as part of the state’s landmark reforms to the decades-old Rockefeller drug laws. Under the program, felony offenders facing non-violent charges that have a history of drug and/or alcohol abuse can be diverted to substance abuse treatment programs in lieu of jail or probation. In addition to regular court appearances, enrollees attend treatment sessions and are subjected to periodic drug testing. The program typically lasts a minimum of six months.
Goldfeder has stated that his legislation is not intended to scrap the program, but rather to strengthen it. The Assemblyman has pointed out that as many as 40 states employ electronic monitoring for at least one type of offense, and that California requires criminals with known gang affiliations to submit to monitoring. It is believed that Officer Holder’s alleged killer had possible gang affiliations.
According to Goldfeder, implementing the program would cost little to the state as costs associated with electronic monitoring are generally borne by the wearer. In New York State, courts are known to apply supervision charges to wearers. Under California’s program, the cost is about $21 per day. For Goldfeder, this is a small price to pay to improve the program.
“This small, common sense approach will go a long way in improving safety in our city so that these tragic mistakes are not repeated in the future,” concluded Goldfeder.