Thursday, March 24, 2022

Chiefs’ Assn. Encouraged by Gov. Hochul's Proposals:
Police push for bail reform changes

The organization representing top police officials around the state says it is encouraged by the changes to bail and discovery reform that Gov. Kathy Hochul proposes in her executive budget.

Police Chief Shawn Heubusch of Batavia forwarded The Daily News, on Wednesday, a statement from the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police, of which he is a member:

“We are hopeful that the discussion will continue to sculpt the (bail reform and discovery) legislation and ensure that the safety of all New Yorkers is made a priority,” the association said in the statement. “We stand ready to lend our experience and expertise to the process and create law that is fair to all our residents.”

The association said criminal justice reform was necessary to address the historic inequalities in the criminal justice system.

“However, in attempting to correct these real inequities, New York’s reforms tipped the balance so far in favor of the accused that public safety has been jeopardized. Victims have been forgotten in the process,” it said. “We believe that it is possible to create a system in which the rights of the accused are respected while the rights of victims and the public are also respected. Public safety must be a priority. We look forward to working with Governor Hochul and the Legislature to identify the proper path forward.

[In] Wyoming County, Sheriff Gregory Rudolph said people elect judges and justices to deliver justice with fairness to all sides:

“Until New York gives our elected judges, who actually have heard facts of the case from the DA (district attorney) and defense attorney, the ability to ascertain if there is a public safety threat when determining bail, ROR (release on own recognizance) or remand, any type of bail reform, reform falls well short in my eyes."

The New York Times reports New York and Mississippi are the two states that don’t allow judges to lock up an accused criminal before trial if he or she was considered a threat — the “dangerousness” provision.

Rudolph said, “Incidentally, when Raise the Age legislation came to fruition a few years ago, the drum was pounding ... ‘New York is only one of two states that starts the age of criminal responsibility at 16.’ Now, we are one of two states that doesn’t allow judges to determine public safety when contemplating bail, ROR (release on own recognizance) or remand and it doesn’t seem to be an issue [for some of our NY Legislators].”

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