A woman whose arrest on hate crime assault charges touched off debate about New York’s bail reform a year ago faces no state prison time if she completes a course of mental health treatment, prosecutors said Friday.
Tiffany Harris, who was freed from jail several times after she was accused of assaulting Orthodox Jewish women in Brooklyn, had her cases moved to Brooklyn Mental Health Court.
If she continues treatment for schizophrenia and does not run afoul of the law, Harris will be able to move on from her state charges without getting any prison time, Brooklyn prosecutors said.
Harris was arrested in December of 2019 after prosecutors say she slapped three Orthodox Jewish women on the streets of Crown Heights.
Her arrest occurred just as New York State’s new bail reform law went into effect. The law barred judges from setting bail for hate crime assault charges. That meant that after arraignment, Harris was freed awaiting trial.
Three days after the initial assaults, she allegedly hit another Jewish woman, and was arrested again.
Harris’ case drew the ire of then-Attorney General William Barr, who came to Brooklyn to announce federal charges against her in early 2020.
The federal case is also pending.
The case touched off an intense debate over criminal justice reforms, with Gov. Cuomo and state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins saying they were open to changes to the law.
“She’s done extremely well and has had no violations under her supervision,” said Deirdre Von Dornum, who represents Harris in the Brooklyn Federal Court case.
Harris is in plea negotiations in her federal case, though Von Dornum declined to comment on the status of the talks with the feds.
The bail reform law was changed as part of budget negotiations in 2020, with assault as a hate crime — which Harris was charged with — added back into the bail eligible list of crimes.