ALBANY, NY (WENY) — Gov. Kathy Hochul promised in her state of the state proposals that she will address public safety and bail reform through policy changes that would allow judges to exercise further discretion to set bail.
In 2019, changes to bail reform provided that after a qualifying offense the “least restrictive” standard is the only standard left for judges to use to set bail for an individual. Tony Jordan, a Washington County District Attorney, said this standard has been troublesome for judges.
“What we’ve seen and experienced tells us, is the least restrictive means measure as the threshold determination about release status has eliminated and stripped away from judges the ability to use their discretion,” he said.
Hochul’s bail reform proposal intends to eliminate this standard. Local state lawmaker Phil Palmesano (R, C-Corning) said this would be a step in the right direction.
He also said the legislature needs to implement the dangerousness standard, which allows judges to determine if a defendant is a threat or risk to society.
“Right now, it’s not crystal clear in the law and that’s why you see dangerous individuals continuing to be released to the public, committing crimes over and over again and that’s not what we need in our community. That’s not what people want in their local communities and neighborhoods,” Palmesano said.
Palmesano emphasized that bail reform is just one element of public safety. He said he intends to push for policy changes like repealing the Humane Alternatives to Long-Term Solitary Confinement (HALT), and raising the age that a child can be prosecuted.
The details of Hochul’s bail reform proposals will likely be hammered out in Hochul’s executive budget, which is due by Feb. 1. After she presents the executive budget, lawmakers will then conduct a series of hearings on topics like bail reform and vote on resolutions.