Public safety budget hearing highlights bail reform

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ALBANY, NY (WENY) — On the second official day of budget hearings, lawmakers reviewed Gov. Kathy Hochul’s budget proposals for public safety, targeting a variety of areas including bail law, gun violence, violent crime, and increasing state police efforts.

Throughout the hearing, New York’s bail law, which has undergone many changes over the years, was a very popular topic.

Sen. Tom O’Mara (R-Big Flats) said the governor’s bail reform proposals–to eliminate the least restrictive means standard–don’t go far enough.

“We need to be doing more to keep these dangerous violent felons off our streets,” O’Mara said.

And some lawmakers have continuously said they don’t think bail is a contributing factor to crime–hoping the legislature will focus on other elements.

“What we have gotten to, we only seem to want to focus on what happens to people once they’ve been arrested and so I want us to really start to talk about the things that we could work on that would stop people from even having to be involved in the criminal justice system,” said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Assembly District 83).

Speaker Heastie added issues of unemployment, underemployment, lack of housing, and drug addiction all contribute to crime.

Final budget decisions will be made in the coming weeks after the Senate and the Assembly deliver their one-house budget resolutions.


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