Bail reform law frees inmates accused of misdemeanor nonviolent felonies

Posted: Updated:

With New York State's bail reform law now taking effect, thousands of inmates across the state will be released.

A total of 29 inmates accused of low-level crimes are being set free from the Nassau County Jail under the new bail reform law.

The new law eliminates the cash bail option for most misdemeanors and non-violent felonies and allows the accused to await trial at home, including some degrees of assault, arson, rape, robbery and vehicular manslaughter.

It was passed by the Democratic-controlled state Legislature in April, in part, to combat over-crowded jails.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran says extra NICE buses were set to transport those discharged, and Social Services would assist with temporary housing.

"It's for the people that can't afford the bail,” says Bobby Brown, of Long Beach. “Because the bail they give us is crazy. My bail was $150,000 for a possession charge."

Many residents who live near the jail say they fear for their safety.

News 12 spoke with the president of the Nassau Correction Officers Benevolent Association.

“They're letting dangerous people back out into the streets,” says Brian Sullivan. “These are dangerous crimes. Some of the them are violent category crimes."

Nassau County police say there will be extra patrols around the jail.

Nassau spokespeople say Tuesday wasn’t the first day inmates were released due to the new bail law. Close to 300 have been released over the last few months.

“This is about money,” says Sullivan. “They don’t want to pay to incarcerate people.”

Republicans across Long Island are demanding changes to the bail reform law. They say the flawed legislation puts the public at risk.

Republican lawmakers held a news conference Tuesday demanding that Gov. Andrew Cuomo issue a moratorium to immediately stop this law from going into effect.

According to Chief Michael Sharkey with the Suffolk Sheriff‘s Office, Suffolk officials also came up with an organized plan to stagger the release of inmates. About 240 people have been released over the last two months.

"The individuals who are accused of crimes aren’t always guilty of those crimes,” says criminal defense attorney Bruce Barket. “And even if they are, they are allowed on the street if they can make bail.”

Barket went on to say that having such individuals incarcerated before they've been convicted is backwards.

Sharkey tells News 12 that the inmate population in Suffolk jails on Oct. 31 was 1,026. As of Tuesday, the total was down to 786.

Inmates accused of misdemeanors, nonviolent felonies set to walk free, await trial at home 

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