State of the Judiciary: Top NYS judge calls for changes to criminal justice reforms

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Janet DiFiore addresses audience

Janet DiFiore, Chief Judge of New York, at the State of the Judiciary Address in February 2020.

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — New York’s top judge, Chief Judge Janet DiFiore, delivered her 2020 State of the Judiciary address in Albany on Wednesday, covering several hot-button topics, including criminal justice reform.

Judge DiFiore spoke at length about New York’s recently enacted criminal justice and bail reforms. She referred to what she said was some good and some bad to have come out of the laws.

Minority populations have long been negatively affected by the cash bail system, Judge DiFiore said, and eliminating cash bail almost entirely for low-level, non-violent offenses was a good move. However, she says, with any kind of sweeping change, things are never perfect right out of the gate.

The new bail reforms have led to nearly daily criticism from Republicans, Democrats, prosecutors and law enforcement. Opponents say the reforms force judges to release possibly dangerous, repeat offenders.

Judge DiFiore responded to such criticisms by saying the law should allow judges to have more discretion in bail decisions.

Governor Andrew Cuomo said again Wednesday, that any changes made to the bail reform laws will likely be included in this year’s budget, which is expected by April 1st.

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