Vincent Pinkney, member of a gang called Everybody Killas and proud owner of a rap sheet 16 arrests long, didn’t need a tour when he was sent back to Rikers Island Friday following his arraignment on murder and attempted murder charges. There was never any question that the jail complex was where he belonged after his arrest for, cops say, stabbing Columbia graduate student Davide Giri to death before plunging a knife into another man’s back and chest, then rushing into Central Park and trying to stab someone else.
There will be lessons aplenty from a horrific crime, one that warrants no more and no less outrage than the comparatively routine bloodshed that plagues Black and Brown New Yorkers in the South Bronx or Central Brooklyn.
The first two for us: This ought to be a moment for “no new-jails” progressives — who rightly want to shutter the squalid, violent hellhouse that is Rikers but simultaneously and very wrongly want to block construction of four new borough-based detention centers — to admit that actually, some people do need to be locked away pre-trial, the presumption of innocence notwithstanding. And for parole, which Pinkney was on, to entail effective supervision.
It should also be an opportunity to press many reasonable people who demanded reform of New York’s laws to specify a limited subset of crimes allowing cash bail, yanking away judicial discretion and ruling out pre-trial incarceration for all other crimes, by what logic they believe Pinkney should indeed be incarcerated.
Yes, the offenses of which he stands accused are among those now eligible for bail. But the real reason he’ll be held — be honest — is not because he is a flight risk, the only technical legal logic by which one is allowed to be locked up pre-trial in New York, but because he presents an obvious threat to the broader community. Yet New York, unlike the vast majority of states and the feds, prevents judges from assessing a suspect’s dangerousness in determining pre-trial detention. Why?