ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – This session, lawmakers approved a series of bail reform measures that included eliminating cash bail.
A news release from Speaker Heastie’s office released after the budget passed this session said:
“Wealth should not determine whether a person, accused but not convicted of a crime, will be jailed while awaiting trial.”
Some say the reforms will have broad impacts.
“What this legislation did is it basically eliminated the judge’s ability to exercise discretion in setting bail for offenses that that judge would determine to be appropriate. The people who authored the legislation and passed the legislation also refused to take into consideration the dangerousness of a defendant and what they did was all across the board,” David Soares, Albany County District Attorney, said.
He says it will also affect public safety.
“You can now be robbed, and they will apprehend that suspect, that suspect will be arraigned and that suspect is back into the community, and by the way they’re not only walking out of the courthouse with their liberty at that moment, 1:20 they’re also walking out of the courthouse with your information, the victim’s information, all eye-witnesses information, including address and phone numbers.”
According to the Speaker’s office, cash bail would be eliminated “for most misdemeanor and non-violent felony offenses.”
Earlier this month, Assembly Republicans had pushed for amendments that would ensure judges would have more discretion over Class A felony drug offenses.
Those amendments failed.
“What the legislators did not touch are murderers. They didn’t touch those cases. So domestic violence-related offenses, rape cases, those offenses have not been touched and a judge will still be allowed to exercise discretion there.”
Lawmakers also approved the Charitable Bail Fund Reform Act.
It would raise the amount of money that CBOs are allowed to provide for bail assistance.
That bill still has to be delivered to the Governor.