ALBANY – District attorneys, sheriffs and police are urging caution in any bail reform measure put forward by the state, warning there must be steps in guarantee that dangerous criminals are not automatically returned into the community.
The District Attorneys Association of New York (DAASNY), the New York State Sheriffs’ Association (NYSSA) and the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police (NYSACOP) join together in calling on the Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature to adopt sensible changes to New York State’s bail system that will benefit all the people of New York.
DAASNY, NYSSA and NYSACOP jointly agree that there should be a presumption of release in most instances for those who commit misdemeanor or non-violent felonies and who pose little or no flight risk. However, these law enforcement organizations believe that this presumption should be allowed to be rebutted for certain crimes or where there is a significant risk that a defendant will not return to court.
In addition, with regard to the public safety of our residents and visitors, a judge should be permitted to consider whether a defendant poses a credible risk to an identifiable person or group of persons.
“We are supportive of some modifications to our current bail system. We believe that this is an appropriate path forward on bail reform,” said Oneida County Sheriff Rob Maciol, President of the New York State Sheriffs’ Association. “While we still believe that New York is as safe as it’s ever been under the existing bail system, we agree that there is always room for improvement, for us as law enforcement officials, and for the communities we serve.”
“District Attorneys agree with presumptive release of defendants in a majority of criminal cases and support presumptive release in many cases. But we want the opportunity to provide evidence to court that an individual poses a threat to public safety or is likely to flee,” said DAASNY President Albany County District Attorney David Soares. “In rare instances those who pose a threat to public safety should be held until trial.”
“The New York State Association of Chiefs of Police believes that the determination of release should be left in the hands of Judges and Magistrates in the State of New York. Public safety dictates that we must allow courts to determine whether someone will pose a threat to our communities,” said Chief John Aresta President of NYSACOP.
DAASNY, NYSSA and NYSACOP have concluded that recommendations, if properly executed, would result in meaningful, fair reform to the bail system in New York State without significantly compromising public safety.
The Task Force’s proposal would create a presumption of release for most defendants, but would allow judges to remand individuals for pre-trial detention when aggravating circumstances are present. It would also allow judges to consider a person’s credible threat to public safety when making a determination whether pre-trial detention is appropriate. Also, the recommendations would not curtail a police officer’s existing discretion regarding whether to issue an appearance ticket or conduct an arrest.