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bail reform

Matt Ryan New York Now

New rules regarding who can be held on bail in New York state took effect Thursday.

The new law rolls back some bail reform measures passed in 2019, and criminal justice advocates say it’s the wrong time to do it, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Karen DeWitt/WXXI News

  

The leader of the New York State Senate said it's likely that changes will soon be made to the state's new bail reform laws, which end most forms of cash bail for nonviolent offenses.

Meanwhile, the state's chief judge also called for amendments to the laws.

Since the law took effect on Jan. 1, law enforcement groups have highlighted select cases of repeat offenders going free under the new rules. Some Democratic senators in more conservative districts have expressed concerns.

Karen DeWitt/WXXI News

The fight over recently enacted bail reform heated up at the Capitol on Tuesday, with dueling events by police and activists that at times centered on charges of racism surrounding a Facebook page that calls for the law to be repealed.

Republican lawmakers and law enforcement groups went first. Senate Minority Leader John Flanagan was joined by hundreds of police in blue uniforms, lined up in rows on the pink sandstone steps of the State Capitol’s grand staircase.

“You are less safe today than you were six months ago,” Flanagan said.

Dan Clark/New York Now

  

Republican state lawmakers will be holding roundtable forums around the state to discuss the fallout from the state's newly enacted criminal justice reforms that ended most forms of cash bail for nonviolent crimes.

The changes to the bail system have led to a backlash among police and prosecutors, who cite examples of defendants with multiple criminal convictions being freed on their own recognizance.

Republican state lawmakers have highlighted the issue, saying it's an example of overreach by the all-Democratic state Legislature.

Photo provided by Baber African Methodist Episcopal Church

Faith leaders in Monroe County issued letters to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state legislators this week urging them to continue upholding bail reform. 

Rev. James Simmons is one of seven clergy who signed the letter addressed to Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and Attorney General Letitia James calling on them to support bail reform despite backlash from some legislators and police who claim the new law will leave dangerous criminals on the streets.

One week after new bail reform laws went into effect in New York State, Governor Andrew Cuomo is calling for changes. The reforms ended cash bail for many lower-level alleged offenses, but a rash of anti-Semitic incidents and other alleged crimes have led critics of the legislation to push for adjustments or an overhaul.

Our guests discuss the state of bail reform and possible unintended consequences. In studio:

Among some top state Democrats, there are some cracks in the support for criminal justice reforms in 2020 that have eliminated most forms of cash bail. Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state's attorney general are among those now saying they are open to making some changes. 

Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter recently wrote an op-ed for the Democrat and Chronicle in which he called for the state to reverse its bail reform measure. Baxter says the legislation could lead to unintended consequences when it comes to issues related to safety, addiction, and more. But public defenders and activists disagree, and say bail reform is a necessary part of criminal justice reform. Our guests debate the issue. In studio:

Jeremy Moule / Rochester City Newspaper

Rev. Lewis Stewart, faith leaders and criminal justice advocates are asking Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo not to sign a controversial law. 

The measure, passed this month, makes it illegal to annoy, alarm or threaten the personal safety of first responders and various forms of law enforcement. Those who do, would face a hefty fine and possibly jail time. It passed in a party-line vote earlier this month. The bill’s co-author, County Legislator Karla Boyce, said she was inspired to introduce the bill by recent instances of first responders put in danger.

James Brown / WXXI

A number of law enforcement leaders joined forces in Rochester and statewide Thursday to ask Governor Andrew Cuomo to slow the state’s move toward criminal justice reform. It's part of a statewide show of force by the law enforcement community. One common concern expressed in Rochester was about discovery. 

Livingston County Sheriff Thomas Dougherty said his department makes many drug-related arrests on Interstate 390. One reform requires police agencies like his to process, test and turn over all evidence to defense attorneys within 15 days.

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