Glens Falls man who served time in prison speaks out against bail reform


GLENS FALLS, N.Y. (NEWS10) — There’s been a lot of fallout and back-and-forth over bail reform in New York State and NEWS10 ABC has been examining it from all angles. A Glens Falls man, who spent time behind bars, believes bail actually saved him from harming himself and others.

“I didn’t care much about anyone. I want to say anyone other than myself. But there were times when I didn’t care about myself,” said Jace Varney.

Varney is a hard working, law abiding guy living in the North Country. But a little over 10 years ago, he was a troubled 19-year old. On a summer night in 2009, he and some friends broke into a vacant home.

“We had our backpacks full of whatever alcohol we could scavenge and just partied in the house,” he recalled.

The party ended when the alcohol dried up. But for some reason, Jace returned alone later that night.

“There was like a big trash can, like a 30 gallon trash can, just full of paper and just torched it. And just let it burn.”

The vacant home, which used to stand on South Street in Glens Falls, was destroyed. Jace was arrested on arson and burglary charges. The judge set bail, but at the time, it was too high for the 19-year old to afford.

“Fifty thousand cash over a $100,000 bond,” he said.
Anya: “Did you feel it was fair then?”
Jace: “At the time, no.”
Anya: “Do you feel it’s fair now?”
Jace: “Yeah.”
Anya: “Why?”
Jace: “Because I’m grown up now and I’ve taken responsibility for my actions.”

In New York, bail was a way of ensuring that defendants showed up for future court dates. But Jace feels bail and his prison term ensured one thing: that he would not commit other crimes.

“If I was to be let go on that, or if I was to get away with it, I wouldn’t have stopped being who I was. I wouldn’t have stopped the things that I was doing,” he adds.

He says he’s solidly against bail reform and recently wrote a post on a Facebook page dedicated to helping repeal the law. He says he was nervous about being honest about his criminal past.

“Being an ex-con I feel that a lot of people would maybe take it more seriously.”

He says he’s hopeful for change after seeing some elected officials already having second thoughts as well as Governor Andrew Cuomo now saying he will work with the Legislature to revamp the law.

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