One dangerous bail reform law: The Legislature must fix mistakes that will make New York City neighborhoods more vulnerable to crime

One dangerous bail reform law: The Legislature must fix mistakes that will make New York City neighborhoods more vulnerable to crime

(excerpt from NY Daily News - May 28 2019)


As part of this year’s budget bill, the Legislature has passed a measure that will greatly reduce the number of arrested persons for whom judges may require bail. Taking effect in January 2020, the new legislation, as currently enacted, will have a significant negative impact on public safety.

The New York City Police Department favors responsible bail reform. There is no reason to hold non-violent minor offenders who pose no danger to public safety on cash bail of any amount. But any reform package should allow judges to remand arrested persons who represent a danger to others, as measured by the gravity of the offense for which they have been arrested and also by the gravity of offenses they have committed in the past.

New York State is one of only three states that do not allow judges to weigh the dangerousness of a subject in determining whether to remand the subject or set bail. Under the new law, judges will be expressly forbidden from remanding or setting bail even for flight risks in the cases of lower level robberies and burglaries and virtually all drug trafficking cases, no matter how many prior offenses the accused robbers, burglars, and drug dealers may have.

Beginning next year, police will be forced to release habitual criminals to return to their chronic offenses, whether violent crimes, burglaries, drug trafficking, or grand larcenies. For instance, an offender held on bail for a serious narcotics charge in 2018––and who had four prior arrests for robbery in a single year –– would not be subject to bail under the new law.

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