Senate Republicans are about to launch a series of roundtable discussions to collect testimony from New Yorkers on the state’s controversial new criminal justice reform that eliminates cash bail for most non-violent crimes.
As of January 1 the new bail reforms approved by the state Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo during the budget process last year has been in effect across New York. The law requires judges to release those charged with most misdemeanors and some nonviolent felonies, prohibiting cash bail. Instead, nonviolent offenders receive a ticket instructing them to return to court at a later date, allowing for their release shortly after being arrested and being processed.
Since the law has gone into effect, critics say it opens the door for more re-offenses and puts the public in danger.
Sen. George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay, will serve as chair of the “Repeal Bail Reform Task Force,” with Senators Patrick Gallivan and Sue Serino serving as co-chairs.
Senate Minority Leader John Flanagan, who appointed Borrello as chair of the task force, said in a statement that, “Dangerous pro-criminal bail reform has made a mockery of the justice system, allowing violent criminals, serial bank robbers and even killers to freely parade the streets.” He later added that the law is an insult to crime victims and their families.
Since the bail reform took effect, more than 90 percent of crimes became eligible for mandatory release. These crimes include manslaughter, vehicular manslaughter, some violent assaults and burglary.
Bail reform opponents point to a recent Siena College Poll that shows public support dropping quickly. By a 49-37 percent margin, voters say the new law eliminating monetary bail for people facing misdemeanor and non-violent felony charges is bad for New York.
Back in April, shortly after passage of the law, voters thought the law would be good for New York, 55-38 percent. While every demographic group moved more negative from April until now, independent, suburban and older voters moved the most, each from positive to strongly negative.
The task force will hear testimony from the public, prosecutors, local leaders, victims and any other interested groups.
“If we are successful in repealing bail reform then we’ll hopefully put a stop to these tragedies we’re reading about on an almost daily basis,” Sen. Borrello in an interview. “Then we can have a real common sense discussion.”
The first roundtable discussion takes place on February 6 in Buffalo at the Mahoney State Office Building from 2 to 4 p.m. Additional roundtables are planned for Long Island, the Hudson Valley and Syracuse with dates and specific locations to come.