WASHINGTON – Congressman Tom Reed said he’s in agreement with Chautauqua County District Attorney Patrick Swanson regarding the criminal justice reform ideas that are being discussed in Albany.
During a recent one-on-one with WNYNewsNow, Swanson said that the ideas, if approved, would be detrimental to victims, witnesses and the community at-large.
With that in mind, WNYNewsNow asked Reed during a conference call Wednesday morning to provide his thoughts on ideas such as the elimination of cash bail and the reforms with discovery (the process to make the parties aware of the evidence that may be presented at trial). Reed said that these reforms will be extremely taxing on county governments from a financial standpoint.
“I’m glad to join my Democratic partner, Patrick (Swanson), in recognizing that this extreme agenda coming out of Albany continues to threaten us on multiple fronts,” Reed said. “When you talk about the elimination of cash bail, when you talk about the discovery reforms that they’re advocating for, and when you’re talking about how you have to have an attorney present at every arraignment, the burden that is being put on our county budgets and on our local governments is significant.”
“Often, this becomes a New York State versus New York City issue.”
Reed said that, in New York City, the requirement means that a lawyer may only need to take an extra subway stop. The Congressman said, however, that in rural counties like Chautauqua County, a lawyer may have to travel nearly an hour to a rural town court for a simple arraignment.
“That’s a significant burden put on to a justice system that is much different in a rural setting than an urban setting,” Reed said. “The bottom line is, these reforms come. You’re prioritizing the defendants who are arrested at the expense of law-abiding citizens.”
“This is something we should weigh carefully. I’ll defer to the State Capitol, I’ll defer to this agenda coming out of Albany, that is their right to make that determination. But I will tell you, I can see some serious consequences from these decisions that are going to impact our local communities in a negative way.”
Reed explained how all of these changes fall under state powers as part of the 10th amendment of the U.S. Constitution, meaning not much can be done at the Federal level.
“All we can do, on this issue, is highlight our difference of opinion, difference of ways to govern and prioritization of law-abiding citizens versus those of criminals that are in the criminal justice system,” Reed said. “From there, we’ll look at opportunities to lessen the financial impact as much as we can. Other than that, it’s really a state issue.
WNYNewsNow has attempted to reach State Senator Cathy Young and Assemblyman Andy Goodell for their thoughts on the issues. As of publish time, they haven’t returned our calls.