Police unions, Republican candidates for state office renew call for bail reform
There is a renewed call for bail reform after a police chase of a parolee in Suffolk ended in a gruesome suicide -- and the discovery of bodies in his Bellport home.
Nassau and Suffolk police unions and Republican candidates for state office gathered Tuesday in Brentwood demanding further changes to the current laws that determine when bail can be set following arrests.
Criminal justice reforms that were signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo went into effect in January 2020. That means judges cannot set bail for dozens of crimes.
In July, some additional crimes were added back as eligible for bail, but attendees at the news conference Tuesday say that is not enough.
"We've seen nothing but a stark increase in violent crimes and shootings in our state," said Noel DiGerolamo, Suffolk PBA president.
DiGerolamo pointed to last week's suspected double murder and suicide in Bellport as an example of failures with the bail reform law.
According to court records, William Farnum was released on state parole in May of last year. At the time of his death last week, he had five open cases since July - including grand larceny.
According to court records, it appears Farnum may have been issued desk appearance tickets and had not yet appeared before a judge on any of the new charges.
Elaine Gross, the president of ERASE Racism, says there's no doubt the criminal justice system, as it was in 2019, needed to change.
"People who were poor, and that also meant a lot of people of color, who had been arrested and they found themselves in jail, because they could not afford to pay the bail," said Gross. "So look at the data, not just say, there's an increase in crime, it must be bail reform, because we don't know that."
The Suffolk DA's office says Farnum was issued "desk appearance tickets" on the arrests since July and failed to appear three times. No bench warrant was ever issued.
The New York state Department of Corrections issued a statement saying,
"DOCCS records indicate William Farnum was arrested once, for the non-violent crime of Grand Larceny in the 4th degree, while under community supervision on July 15, 2020. He was subsequently directed by his parole officer to report to his assigned parole office, which he failed to do. DOCCS efforts to re-engage the parolee continued. Once it was determined he had absconded a warrant was issued and additional efforts to apprehend him ensued. Those efforts to locate Farnum were ongoing at the time of his death."