Rollbacks to New York's bail reform law take effect
Changes to the state's bail reform law went into effect Thursday, and while Suffolk's DA is happy with the balance it strikes, others are not happy with the rollbacks.
Religious and community leaders held a virtual press conference Thursday to condemn Gov. Andrew Cuomo for rolling back some of the bail reforms put into place in January.
"This is devastating for Black and Brown communities, where all of us fit the description, but some of us can afford bail," says Winnie Varghese, a priest at Trinity Wall Street Church. "A campaign filled with racism and lies really led to a rollback of these reforms, more people will be in jail, pretrial, beginning today."
The amendments to the bail reform law were passed in April as part of the state budget and went into effect Thursday. The change essentially adds more crimes that judges can now set bail for.
The added crimes include burglary of a dwelling, certain drug cases, sex trafficking offenses, money laundering in support of terrorism and any crime that results in the death of another person.
Suffolk District Attorney Tim Sini says this is a win.
"This new revised statute does a much better job of striking the balance, to ensure people aren't held simply because they don't have access to financial resources, while also protecting public safety," says Sini.
State Sen. Monica Martinez has sponsored a bill to further amend the bail reform by giving more discretion to judges.
"It was a step in the right direction, but I'm not completely satisfied," she says. "We still have a lot that are out there that affect a lot of our victims, who are afraid to go to the police and make a statement, or suffering from domestic violence, because only certain domestic violence charges were included."
The revised criminal justice reforms also give prosecutors more time - up to 35 days - to turn over evidence to defendants.