State’s new cash bail reform puts public at risk: District attorneys
(excerpt from The New York Post - Apr 10, 2019)
New, soft-on-crime bail laws will let dangerous thugs roam free, endanger their victims and hamstring the authorities who want to send them to prison, the city’s top prosecutors warn.
District attorneys from all five boroughs blasted Albany lawmakers over the package of criminal-justice reforms included in the $175.5 billion state budget that was passed earlier this month.
“The actions they have taken will put victims in danger and I quite frankly do find the whole package unfathomable and outrageous,” Staten Island District Attorney Michael McMahon told The Post.
“Many people accused with violent crimes, serious felonies are going to be back on the street.”
“They are tying our hands, they’re tying our feet and they’re gagging victims from coming forward to stand up for their rights,” he added.
A key measure of the bill — which takes effect next year — eliminates cash bail for anyone charged with a misdemeanor or non-violent felony, which advocates claim will reduce racial disparities and ease overcrowding of jails like Rikers Island.
Last month, prosecutors lobbied Gov. Cuomo to included a “dangerousness” standard so judges could lock up suspects who pose a threat to society — but their plea fell on deaf years.
“Judges currently have enormous discretion as to whether to set bail and, if so, how much. This bill strips judges of much of that discretion,” said a spokesman for retiring Queens DA Richard Brown.
“If you are unfortunate enough to have your house burglarized, you are probably not going to be happy to find out that in almost every instance the court will have to release the burglar under the new law.
“When the reality of this law sets in, we believe the public will be rightfully outraged — and they are going to want to know who is responsible,” Brown’s rep added.
One obscure provision even allows defendants to request access to inspect or photograph crime scenes.
“The concept of a rape victim having the rapist walking around her apartment is, quite frankly, insane,” one law-enforcement source told The Post.