When are people finally going to say ‘enough!’ to justice system that…

Unless you’ve been under a rock for the last week, chances are you’ve seen the now-viral video of a man repeatedly (more than 50 times) beating a disabled 60-year-old woman named Laurell Reynolds — apparently with her own cane — as she futilely attempted to dodge and deflect the vicious blows with her bare hands.

Those of us who saw the harrowing footage likely considered some version of the following question as we looked on in horror: “My goodness, when is he going to stop?!”

The question is a strange one in that it accepts that the victim’s fate is in the hands of the sort of person who mercilessly beats unarmed women with blunt objects.

The reality, of course, is stopping people like that is up to us — the good and honorable among us — preferably through the institutions we have erected to respond to and prevent these sorts of crimes.

That’s what makes this case a perfect metaphor for the much deeper problem with how we do criminal justice here in the Empire State.

Here’s what I mean:

On Wednesday, per The Post, the NYPD made an arrest in this case.


Norton Blake getting arrested for the alleged assault on September 6, 2023.
Norton Blake getting arrested for the alleged assault on September 6, 2023.
James Messerschmidt for NY Post

The alleged perpetrator, it turns out — to the surprise of absolutely no one who has paid attention to crime in New York — is a repeat offender with at least nine prior arrests for offenses ranging from drug possession and trespass to assault and resisting arrest.

In other words, this is a man who has inflicted multiple blows on society through repeated criminal conduct; and yet it seems as though all that those in charge of making criminal-justice policy are prepared to do is wonder quietly, “When is he going to stop?”

But stopping him and those like him is their job!

At what point does our criminal-justice system say “Enough”?

How many catches and releases is one entitled to?


Blake allegedly struck Reynolds over 50 times.
Blake allegedly struck Reynolds over 50 times.
Obtained by the Post

Reynolds on the ground after the brutal attack.
Reynolds on the ground after the brutal attack.
via Twitter

These are questions more and more New Yorkers are going to be asking themselves as they are confronted with more and more stories of terrible and heinous crimes committed by people who’ve had multiple run-ins with the law.

One thing New Yorkers ought to be keeping an eye out for as this case makes its way through the system is what happens to the man charged with the assault.

Will he be released pretrial? After all, New York state judges cannot consider dangerousness when making pretrial release decisions.

Will he be convicted? If so, how much, if any, time will he be sentenced to serve in prison?

No, this isn’t a murder case, but that woman could have easily been killed.

How much should her attacker benefit from her luck?

The unfortunate reality is this: Rarely will heinous crimes be committed by individuals with no criminal history.

The fact of the matter is that whether we’re talking about shoplifting or homicide, crime is driven disproportionately by repeat offenders who’ve made their commitment to violating the law (or their inability to comply with it for reasons of severe mental illness) quite clear.

Sure, if left alone, they may eventually desist; but who wants to wait that long?


Blake has at least nine prior arrests for charges including assault.
Blake has at least nine prior arrests for charges including assault.
James Messerschmidt for NY Post

Who wants to tell women like Laurell Reynolds that they just have to cover up a while longer — that it’ll be over soon (we hope)?

It’s time we remember that crime needs to be stopped by an outside force, not waited out with fingers crossed.

Until we recommit to that principle, expect the blows to keep on coming — again, and again, and again. . .

Rafael A. Mangual is the Nick Ohnell fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a City Journal contributing editor and author of “Criminal Injustice: What The Push For Decarceration And Depolicing Gets Wrong And Who It Hurts Most.”

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