Legislation seeks to change drug rehab diversion programs
By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
A bill that would place strict guidelines on how criminal defendants are placed in drug rehabilitation programs in lieu of jail is now heading for the state Assembly after it won approval in the state Senate.
State Sen. Marty Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-Southwest Brooklyn) sponsored the bill, known as Officer Randolph Holder's Law. The legislation was passed by the Senate last week.
Holder, a 33-year-old New York City police officer, was fatally gunned down in East Harlem on October 20, 2015. A native of Guyana, Holder was a five-year veteran of the New York Police Department. Tyrone Howard, the suspect who allegedly shot Holder, had been permitted to enter a drug rehabilitation program following a previous arrest.
“The shooter was approved by the court for a drug treatment program over the objections of the prosecutor, who argued in favor of incarceration given the history of violence this criminal had
displayed. The justice system failed Officer Randolph Holder and failed his family. Moving forward, it is important that the public and law enforcement officers are protected from violent individuals who take advantage of drug treatment programs to get back on the streets to commit further crimes," said Golden, a retired New York City cop.
Holder’s Law would reform the state’s judicial diversion program to prevent violent offenders from being able to skip jail and attend drug rehabilitation, Golden said.
Under the bill, defendants who have two prior felony convictions would not be eligible for drug- rehabilitation-over-prison programs. In addition, prosecutors would be allowed to request an additional court hearing to determine if a criminal defendant would pose a threat to society and would, therefore, be ineligible for a judicial diversion program.
Malliotakis (R-C-Bay Ridge-Staten Island) is sponsoring the bill in the Assembly.
“Our bill would separate those afflicted with drug addiction from those who profit from their suffering and ensure that they’re sentenced accordingly. This is especially critical with our state facing a devastating heroin epidemic. Someone with four felony drug convictions should not be sent to treatment with addicts. If career criminal Tyrone Howard was put in jail where he belonged, Police Officer Randolph Holder would be alive today. The Assembly must step up and join the Senate in closing this disturbing loophole,” Malliotakis said.
The Holder bill has been endorsed by the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (PBA).
"Police Officer Randolph Holder was murdered by a hardened criminal who should never have been allowed back on the streets. Any judicial diversion program that does not account for a defendant's criminal history and their risk to public safety is another tragedy waiting to happen," PBA President Patrick Lynch said.
But a 2015 article on Gawker sought to punch a hole in the theory that Howard’s entry into a judicial diversion program played a role in Holder’s tragic death.
Howard, 30, wasn’t roaming around free on the streets of East Harlem on the night of Oct. 20, 2015 because he was in drug rehabilitation in lieu of prison, according to the Gawker. He was out on bail, the website reported.