JAMESTOWN – This week, lawmakers in Jamestown passed a resolution calling on New York State to revise its bail reform law.
Jamestown City Councilman, and former Jamestown Police Officer, Jeff Russell in an interview with WNYNewsNow called on the state to reconsider the list of offenses that are included part of the reforms.
“Someone can go out now and they can be driving drunk in their vehicle and crash and kill someone, and they can end up getting an appearance ticket and leave,” said Russell. “It is a question of what you consider violent or not, crashing your car and killing someone because you are intoxicated, to me, that is a violent action.”
The councilman says since the reforms went into effect on January 1, he has received a lot of feedback from residents who are concerned about public safety.
Additionally, Russell feels the reforms, and what they specifically changed, were kept quiet until the end of 2019 even though they were passed in the spring.
He says he is not specifically against reforming the criminal justice system, just that the state should look to adjust the current modifications in place.
State lawmakers originally overhauled bail rules to address what they saw as an unfair bias in the system against the poor.
Advocates who cheered the bail overhaul now find themselves on defense amid significant criticism from prosecutors and law enforcement officials, who say the new bail law has jeopardized public safety.
Most of the concerns revolve around instances of defendants being released under the new law and then committing new crimes.
It remains unclear how or if lawmakers will amend the bail law. Leading Democrats including Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, have said they are open to changes.
A Siena College poll of 814 registered voters found declining support for the bail law among Democrats, Republicans and independents. It found that 49% of poll respondents said the bail changes were bad for New York while 37% said they were good for the state.