Big reforms to the state’s justice system are close at hand, a matter of weeks now before they take effect. With that, those opposed are raising the volume of their complaints. And the one change they’re really going after is the elimination of bail for misdemeanors and non-violent crimes, meaning defendants can walk free between arraignment and the trial.
Today, a group of state leaders, local leaders and law enforcement, tried to pressure lawmakers into an eleventh-hour walk back.
“This is going to be an abject nightmare in January. An abject nightmare and it’s going to affect everybody,” says Jim Ritts, Ontario County District Attorney.
With bail reform laws taking effect January 1, it could mean some suspects get set free without having to pay cash bail. Opponents say these new bail reforms are going to cause havoc and ignore the rights of victims.
Al Mothershed, Vice President at New York State Correctional Officers says, “I’ve often said that hastiness leads to recklessness, and this is a perfect example of what’s been done. It’s not going to do anything except create more problems.”
Mothershed adds the victims of crimes will be forgotten about, a concern on the mind of State Senator Pam Helming as well.
“Under this new legislation, a person who’s committed a crime will have the opportunity to even return to the scene of the crime, which could be the victim’s own home,” says Helming.
But supporters of bail reform say these are for mostly non-violent crimes, will remedy overcrowding in jails, and deliver constitutional rights.
“The US Constitution, the Eighth Amendment, says excessive bail shall not be required,” says defense attorney Mark Foti.
Foti says that’s consistent with the idea that the accused are presumed innocent. He says after January 1, there will be less tax dollars spent on incarcerating people who have not been proven guilty.
“I think there will be more equality within the system,” he says.