Albany, NY – A new law that eliminates cash bail for many violent crimes will go into effect on January 1 in New York.
Police and prosecutors now say they are unhappy about the long list of felonies included on the list of criminal offenses that will no longer result in a suspect being held on bail until trial.
"I am not gonna go through another year, where we don't do criminal justice reform," New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said during budget negotiations, according to WRGB.
Cuomo said he wanted to reduce the number of people who were held in jail awaiting trial.
But critics have called the new bail reform law overreaching and said it goes too far.
Fulton County Sheriff Richard Giardino, who spent 18 years as a judge, told WRGB there should be more qualifying offenses for bail.
"You leave for work in the morning, we arrest em’ at 7 o’clock on a raid. You get home at 6 o'clock, by the time you get issued an appearance ticket they're back out on the street,” Sheriff Giardino said.
The sheriff said that law enforcement officers are going to spend a lot of time tracking down people who fail to appear for court.
"You're going to see a large spike in people not going to court in the first six to nine months of this, then you're going to see our officers spending numerous hours, numerous days tracking people who have been bench-warranted,” he said.
The New York Police Department (NYPD) Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counter-terrorism John Miller called the plan “misguided” and said that 99 percent of people who are arrested will be released under the new plan, WLNY reported.
“Everybody who gets arrested for anything except for maybe murder and attempted murder is going to be released without having to pay any bail, right at arraignment,” Deputy Commissioner Miller said.
He said the new plan eliminated any incentive for criminals not to repeat their crimes, WLNY reported.
“Before they enacted this law, 89 percent, 89 percent of people were being released at arraignment without having to pay bail anyway,” Deputy Commissioner Miller said. “Now that’s going to go to probably 99 percent, which is going to be a problem because criminals are going to know at the time they’re arrested ‘I’m not really risking going to jail, I’m not really risking anything except going through the system and coming out at the other end.'”
NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan agreed with his department’s counter-terrorism boss.
“You’re talking about people who can sell pounds of cocaine and walk out with no bail. Someone burglarizes your house and walks out with no bail,” Chief Monahan said. “We’re going to be facing some major issues come Jan. 1 if this doesn’t get changed.”
But the governor said he had no plans to change the new reforms because he doesn’t think a person’s freedom should hinge on whether they can afford bail, WRGB reported.
Law enforcement was furious.
“In many cases, we have lost our ability to get people off the street even for a short-term basis. Even just a cool-down period,” Saratoga County Undersheriff Richard Castle told WTEN.
Undersheriff Castle said he was most worried about low-level burglary and robbery charges, as well as the number of bench warrants that will be issued when people stop showing up for court.
“So if someone goes to your house and kicks in your front door and steals items out of your house and we catch them, they will be released. If they do it an hour later, they’ll be released again,” he explained. Also, “We’re now going to have to go find them when they don’t show up in court.”
The undersheriff complained that the bail reform legislation was passed without consulting law enforcement or prosecutors, WTEN reported.
New York Assemblyman Dan Stec said bail reform should have never been passed as part of the budget package and said the changes take away discretion from law enforcement and prosecutors.
"Their hands are tied. Instead of being able to exercise their professional experienced discretion, it's a one-size-fits-all now,” Stec said.
The District Attorneys Association of the State of New York released a list of charges that will no longer qualify a suspect to be held on bail, WTEN reported.
- Assault in the third degree
- Aggravated vehicular assault
- Aggravated assault upon a person less than eleven years old
- Criminally negligent homicide
- Aggravated vehicular homicide
- Manslaughter in the second degree
- Unlawful imprisonment in the first degree
- Coercion in the first degree
- Arson in the third and fourth degree
- Grand larceny in the first degree
- Criminal possession of a weapon on school grounds or criminal possession of a firearm
- Criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first and second degree
- Criminal sale of a controlled substance in the first and second degree
- Criminal sale of a controlled substance in or near school grounds
- Specified felony drug offenses involving the use of children, including the use of a child to commit a controlled substance offense and criminal sale of a controlled substance to a child
- Criminal solicitation in the first degree and criminal facilitation in the first degree
- Money laundering in support of terrorism in the third and fourth degree
- Making a terroristic threat
- Patronizing a person for prostitution in a school zone
- Promoting an obscene sexual performance by a child
- Possessing an obscene sexual performance by a child
- Promoting a sexual performance by a child
- Failure to register as a sex offender
- Obstructing governmental administration in the first and second degree
- Obstructing governmental administration by means of a self-defense spray device
- Bribery in the first degree
- Bribe giving for public office
- Bribe receiving in the first degree
- Promoting prison contraband in the first and second degree
- Resisting arrest
- Hindering prosecution
- Tampering with a juror and tampering with physical evidence
- Aggravated harassment in the first degree
- Directing a laser at an aircraft in the first degree
- Criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree
- Criminal sale of a firearm to a minor
- Enterprise corruption and money laundering in the first degree
- Aggravated cruelty to animals, overdriving, torturing and injuring animals
- Failure to provide proper sustenance
- Animal fighting