Gov. Hochul is to blame for attack by machete-wielding, mentally ill woman

This week’s words of wisdom on violent crime came from an elderly man who had just been sliced through the skull with a machete. “I would suggest she needs to be examined by a doctor,” 82-year-old Hubert Meulens calmly told The Post Wednesday from his hospital bed, speaking of the woman who had just attacked him on a Lower Manhattan street. “She needs psychiatric help.”

But this is New York City in the age of Gov. Kathy Hochul — who, despite having a fully intact skull, still thinks the answer is to wait for things to fix themselves, after she tweaked the state’s bail “reform” laws five months ago.

Just like most of the random street and subway attackers who have plagued New Yorkers over two years, 20-year-old Deashe Calhoun did not suddenly “snap” when she slashed through Meulens’ head.

This case reads like a parody of New York’s broken criminal-justice and mental-health systems. Calhoun may as well have walked around with a sign reading, “Warning: I’m about to attack someone with a machete.” Five weeks ago, on July 31, Calhoun threatened another hapless stranger on Fifth Avenue with a machete. For that, Manhattan District Attorney Bragg charged her with … three misdemeanors. She went free with no bail.

Three weeks later, and not even two weeks before Wednesday’s attack, Calhoun threatened another stranger in Manhattan, also with a machete. For this, Bragg slapped her with … misdemeanors. Again, she went free.

By then, these menacing-with-a-deadly-weapon episodes were already part of a long pattern. Since the weather got warm in March, Calhoun has variously threatened people or displayed knives everywhere from Washington Square Park to a Brooklyn subway.

Deasha Calhoun
Deasha Calhoun is escorted by police after allegedly slashing an 82-year-old man.
William Farrington

Calhoun may not need to be in jail. She’s at the age at which serious psychiatric illnesses present themselves — conditions made worse by drug use, which the city now encourages.

But she does need to be somewhere.

Yet even after Hochul’s reforms, the criminal-justice and social-services systems are still multiple dysfunctional parts that work even less functionally together.

Why didn’t Hochul include knives, rather than just guns, in tightening bail rules? If you’ve been repeatedly arrested for threatening people with knives, you don’t belong on the street. If Calhoun had been caught multiple times with loaded guns this year, she could have been sitting in jail instead of attacking Meulens.

And why didn’t Hochul push harder for the Legislature to allow judges to consider a person’s dangerousness when keeping someone at Rikers?

Someone who repeatedly menaces total strangers with deadly weapons is dangerous. Under a danger standard, a judge wouldn’t have to go through a confusing thicket of what is and isn’t “bail-eligible.”

New York Post cover for Thursday, September 8, 2022.
New York Post cover for Thursday, September 8, 2022.

Again, jail isn’t the goal for a mentally ill person — but it’s a point of leverage. Bragg could have charged Calhoun with a serious felony, and then a judge could have ordered an inmate psychiatric evaluation. Later, if she refused to comply with voluntary treatment, the city could compel her, as part of downgrading charges. Ignoring Calhoun’s woes didn’t help her. Now she faces serious felony charges.

It also didn’t help the actual victim.

The 82-year-old Meulens, an immigrant and retired accountant, wasn’t braving the streets of New York City for fun. He was coming home from work, as a building concierge, which he does to support his wife.

He knew the city had grown more dangerous. As his son told The Post, “I tell him every night, be careful on the trains and in the street. There are a lot of zombies … who are very unpredictable and irrational. It’s not being dealt with.”

Governor Hochul
Gov. Hochul has been under fire for NY’s controversial bail laws.
Matthew McDermott

Though Mayor Adams is doing all he can on guns — and it’s working so far, with shootings down — all other crimes, including knife crimes, are up because the Legislature completely ignores them.

Maybe this latest horrific attack will cause Hochul to call the Legislature to an emergency session, just on crime. Last month, all Hochul had to say was that “there probably is a miscommunication and misperception that things have not changed.”

Even the guy who just took a large knife to the skull knows this isn’t a “miscommunication” problem.

Nicole Gelinas is a contributing editor to the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal.

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