Long Island lawmaker wants to tweak bail reforms to aid prosecutors in building cases against drug traffickers
(excerpt from Daily News - April 25 2019)
ALBANY — A Long Island Republican wants to rollback recently passed criminal justice reforms to ensure drug traffickers can’t escape justice.
Assemblyman Ed Ra (R-Hempstead) introduced legislation this week that would allow judges to continue to call for cash bail for defendants facing serious felony drug offenses, scaling back part of the sweeping criminal justice reforms passed in the state budget by the Democrat-controlled Senate and Assembly.
Ra, inspired by concerns raised in recent weeks by the city’s top narcotics prosecutor, said Thursday that the scope of his amendment is narrow and only meant to combat drug dealers contributing to the deadly opioid epidemic that’s devastating New York and the rest of the nation.
“It’s fairly straight-forward, just putting those A-level felonies, instead of them being exempted, putting them back in,” Ra told the Daily New.
Democrats eliminated cash bail for most misdemeanor and non-violent felony offenses in the budget.
Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan has issued repeated warnings about the state-wide bail reform hindering drug prosecutions and forcing judges to treat high-ranking cartel members the same as street-level dealers.
Brennan noted in a recent op-ed in The News that large-scale dealers who smuggle millions of dollars worth of deadly heroin, cocaine and fentanyl into the state could easily skip town, or even the country, if bail or other measures aren’t used to ensure they return to court.
“This is going to be a real serious obstacle for us in our effort to thwart drug trafficking throughout New York state,” she said.