ALBANY (WENY) – New York State Senator Tom O’Mara and his fellow colleagues in the State Senate Republican conference unveiled a package of legislation aimed at “protecting crime victims” on Thursday.
The “Victims’ Justice Agenda” was brought forward as a response to the rising violent crime rates statewide; Republicans have argued these rates are a result of policies the GOP has called “pro-criminal, anti-police”, such as the bail and discovery reform laws passed in 2019.
“Enough is enough and we need to stand up, speak out, and fight against the pro-criminal, anti-police mentality and policies that keep going too far in New York State,” said Sen. O’Mara. “Governor Cuomo and the Democrat supermajorities in control of the State Legislature show no signs of letting up in their push for a so-called progressive agenda that only stands to embolden criminals and keep making this state and our communities less safe. We need to enact legislation that puts crime victims and community safety first.”
The legislative package includes measures that would:
– repeal the bail and discovery reform law enacted by Cuomo and the Democrat majorities in the Senate and Assembly two years ago;
– add certain offenses committed by a family member to the list of crimes qualifying for bail, including better protecting victims of domestic violence by allowing judges more discretion in securing orders in certain cases;
– ensure that repeat offenders qualify for bail and pre-trial detention when the principal has been convicted of one or more misdemeanor or felony offenses. Earlier this month, for example, an Oswego man was arrested 18 times over the span of four days, on charges ranging from stealing, harassing, resisting arrest, and trespassing. None of the repeat crimes he was charged under were bail eligible, and he was only held with bail after his 18th arrest for burglary and larceny;
– allow the sentence of life imprisonment without parole for persistent violent felony offenders who have three or more felony convictions;
– provide judges with discretion when setting bail for dangerous defendants;
– require health care facilities to report incidents of a sexual offense to the departments of both health and education; and
– protect witnesses in criminal prosecutions from intimidation and threats
The introduction of the “Victims’ Justice Agenda” comes a week after Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a “disaster emergency” on gun violence in the state. O’Mara has called the declaration “grandstanding…that only seeks to continue giving the governor unilateral powers to control the criminal justice agenda and debate in New York moving forward”.