Bail reform changes included in NYS budget

NY Capitol News

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Changes to the state’s bail reform laws were included in the New York State budget.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, that while he was proud of the bail reforms the state made last year, tweaks needed to be made in this year’s budget to improve public safety. So far there’s been mixed reaction to the changes.

Some of the new bail reform changes passed in the state budget include making more high-level offenses eligible for bail. According to the Senate Majority’s Office, this includes domestic violence felonies, crimes resulting in death, additional sex crimes and high-level drug offenses.

“… all the crimes that were added are certainly a benefit,” Montgomery County Sheriff Jeff Smith said. “That doesn’t mean that bail will be set but judges having the ability to have it be set if it’s necessary. We think is important.”

An extra $40 million will also be allocated to help implement the criminal discovery reforms.

Sheriff Smith said it also gives the prosecution up to 35 days in some cases to provide the evidence to the defense.

“…Because, as an agency that handles the 911 center, it’s very cumbersome and problematic and financially difficult for us to upload all the 911 calls, the radio transmissions, the phone calls and to provide them to the other agencies throughout the county,” he explained.

Meanwhile, supporters of the initial bail reforms, who wanted no roll-backs, said it will lead to an increase in people in jails and prisons.

In a statement, a spokesperson with the Center for Community Alternatives said:

“It is unconscionable that Albany played politics with the lives of tens of thousands of New Yorkers. Contrary to what Governor Cuomo says, the rollbacks passed today are not “improvements,” instead they massively expand the number of people subjected to the horror and injustice of pretrial jailing.

Others, however, said the changes didn’t go far enough.

“… Rather than listening to our district attorneys and law enforcement officials and fully repeal these laws, they put forth weak, half-measures,” Assemblyman Dan Stec said.

Assemblyman Stec and Sheriff Smith also said they wish there had been more judicial discretion included to the changes.

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