Law enforcement, lawmakers call for repeal of new bail reform laws
Suffolk corrections officers and numerous other law enforcement and state lawmakers gathered in Ridge Friday to call on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to repeal the new bail reform laws.
The new bail reform took effect in New York state at the beginning of the year.
As of Jan. 1, defendants accused of nonviolent crimes are no longer issued bail anymore to ensure that they return to court.
However, since the law was enacted, there have been several instances of defendants who were released and then allegedly went out and committed more crimes.
Victor Maldonado says on Jan. 12, a repeat DWI offender who was free without bail allegedly got drunk again and slammed into the back of his son’s car, killing him.
“Bail reform allowed this to happen,” Maldonado said.
“The people we all represent - they are not as safe today as they were a year ago,” said state Republican Senate Minority Leader John Flanagan.
Sen. Flanagan and others say the current bail reform laws need to be repealed. He blames Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Democratic majority in Albany.
“The Democrats brought you this, including the governor, and I've said this and I'm going to keep saying it: They own it. They own it, and we are going to hit them every single day,” Sen. Flanagan said.
However, this isn't a single party or single group argument. Some Democrats are also calling on the new bail reform laws to be changed.
“If anything, this bail reform actually made our communities more vulnerable than they were prior,” said Democratic state Sen. Monica Martinez from Brentwood. She has introduced legislation that would give judges more freedom to impose bail where they see fit.
“My bill is more comprehensive. It allows our judges to have their power back, not even power, it’s their authority, back,” Sen. Martinez said.
She added that Gov. Cuomo is reviewing the bill. Recently, he admitted the bail reform laws have flaws and need to be adjusted.
“Let's understand the facts, understand the consequences, discuss it intelligently, rationally and in a soluble way, and then let's make the decisions that we need to make,” Gov. Cuomo said.
The governor added that he plans to address bail reform and possible adjustments to the current law in the coming weeks.
Meantime, bail reform advocates say the new system is helping communities of color and defendants get the support and services they need while awaiting trial.